The Impact Governors Have on the Abortion Laws in Their States

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images

Although legalized since the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, abortion is far from a settled issue in the United States. While the topic pops up on the national level as a rallying cry during presidential debates and campaigns, the real action takes place on the state level.

In 2010, Republicans up and down the ballot across the U.S. won in droves — making 2011 their first year of legislative action since being elected. From 2011 to 2014, states enacted 231 abortion restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Coincidence? HealthGrove looked at data on abortion access and the ideology of each state’s governor to see if there was a connection between a state’s political leaning and its access to abortion providers.

This map, using 2011 data from the Guttmacher Institute, shows how states differ in terms of access to abortion. Typically, states in the South and Midwest have more restrictions on the books than states in the Northeast and West.

In 22 states, at least 50 percent of women live in a county without an abortion provider. Of those 22 states, 17 have Republican governors — and most of those leaders are among the more conservative in the country. Using data from OnTheIssues, we get some insight into each state’s political leaning. That group scores politicians’ ideology on a scale of -10 to 10, where negative scores are more liberal and positive scores are more conservative.

Take Wyoming, where 4 percent of women live in a county with an abortion provider. That state is very rural, and has the lowest population in the U.S., which could contribute to such a low percentage. But Republican Gov. Matt Mead has also been a strong opponent since he first ran for statewide office in 2010. Although by no means the most conservative in the country, Mead does score as more conservative than the average GOP governor.

A recent Bloomberg article pointed out that Wyoming is one of four states with just one abortion clinic. The other three? Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota. All of those states have fairly conservative Republican governors.

In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant has worked to limit abortion rights in his state. During his State of the State address in January 2014, he said, “My goal is to end abortion in Mississippi.” By April of that year, Bryant signed legislation banning abortion at 20 weeks.

Data shows that as of 2011, 27 percent of women in North Dakota live in a county with abortion access. But in March 2013, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed one of the strictest abortion mandates in the country, prohibiting abortions at six weeks. A federal appeals court ultimately struck down the law in July 2015.

And in nearby South Dakota, only two months after his inauguration in 2011, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill that required a 72-hour waiting period and counseling at a “pregnancy help center” before a woman could get an abortion. Two years later, he signed a bill that excluded weekends and holidays from that 72-hour window.

On the other side of the issue, of the states with the most access to abortion clinics, seven of the top 10 have more liberal governors. Guttmacher data shows that all women in Hawaii have access to an abortion provider, while in California — a much larger, more populous state — 99 percent of women live in a county with access to a provider. The Democratic governors in both states, Gov. David Ige and Gov. Jerry Brown, respectively, are among the more left-leaning in the country.

Though it's true that most states with a more conservative governor in office have more restrictions when it comes to abortion access, notable exceptions do exist. In Arizona, for example, 86 percent of women live in a county with an abortion provider, but Gov. Doug Ducey is a conservative Republican. Even in more urban states with a moderate Republican governor, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, women have better access to abortion providers.

Research More About Reproductive Health Issues

Haute Tease

  • The International Art Festival Category Winners' Exhibition to Hold Opening Reception

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The opening reception for the 2013 International Art Festival Winner’s Exhibition will be held on Wednesday, August 14, beginning at 6:00pm at the Museum of Russian Art.                                 

  • Money News: US Markets Run Abbreviated Holiday Trading Week; Record Closes for 2014

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Dow Jones Industrial brought holiday cheer, during abbreviated trading, and closed the last full week of 2014 over 18,000 points in an all time record calming worried investors and setting the tone for the coming year.

  • X-Men: First Class - First Class Fun!

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, a high action, entertaining sci-fi flick from Twentieth Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment and Dune Entertainment, recently screened for members of the press on the FOX STUDIO lot in Century City, CA.

  • POP VEGAS, Showcasing Pop-Up Exhibitions, Opens Winter 2019

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pop Vegas, the brand-new, trailblazing exhibition space will open at The LINQ Promenade, the open-air entertainment, dining and retail district located at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Opening date and first exhibition to be announced shortly.

  • Clive Christian Men’s Perfume Review - Seductive, Discriminating, The Ultimate in British Luxury

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The British Invasion, once synonymous with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other musical groups has evolved into the recent obsessions with Downton Abby, The Crown, and The Royals, it seems like the world has had a resurgent thirst for all things Royal.

  • The Sparkling Water Maker from Soda Stream Review – Healthy, Eco-Friendly, One Touch Use

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    As the health risks associated with soda continue to increase, Soda Stream the sparkling water maker has entered the market with a home appliance that allows consumers to create their own carbonated beverages right from the tap.

  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure - An Explosive, Solid, Wild, Sci-Fi Winner

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Maze Runner: The Death Cure, from Twentieth Century Fox, presents the third installment in the wildly popular Maze Runner Franchise, with sharp, crisp stunts and special effects, unexpected twists and shocking turns and an explosive, climatic, finale.

  • "WatchBox by Govberg" App a Timely Father’s Day Find

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button


    Looking for a quintessential Father's Day gift that's truly timeless? Then you may want to turn to the WatchBox by Govberg app for some assistance with what to get for the deserving Dads in your life.

  • Kevin Costner Lists Santa Barbara County Coastline Property; Lowers Asking for Magnificent Acreage

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A-list actor Kevin Costner, who owns a nice chunk of Santa Barbara County coastline, is jettisoning a 10-acre site where he once considered building a home. The price for this slice of paradise? $60 million.

  • Hotel Mumbai Review - Four Stars! Riveting Recreation, Palpable Intensity

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hotel Mumbai, from Bleeker Street Media and Screen Australia, presents a riveting recreation of the November 26, 2008 night of terror when jihadists attacked the city in coordinated attacks targeting westerns the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

  • Martial Vivot and French Wink Host Father’s Day Event

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Martial Vivot, the renowned men's hairstylist has paired with French Wink for Father's Day and, in celebration is offering to the public a curated assemblage of French men's and unisex brands selection of unique luxurious French creations at salon pour hommes.

  • Five Fabulous Female Celebs: Natural or Enhancements

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    There are celebrities who seem to get better with age and maintain their looks while others seem to be at war with aging. The one sure thing about cosmetic enhancements: we can’t help to notice when it goes wrong. 

  • Colorado Flooding Surpasses All Records

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    After seven days of rain, Colorado is bracing for the recovery effort in the wake of an apocalyptic storm that left a total of eight dead, hundreds unaccounted for and homes, buildings, bridges and roads washed away.

  • Wind River Review – Suspenseful, A Gripping Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Wind River, from The Weinstein Company, present the story of a brutal murder, a wildlife tracker, a novice FBI agent, outlaw rouge justice, traditions and modern life on the Native American Reservation and the search for truth.

  • Une Fleur Sans Racine

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Que restera-t-il du mouvement des Gilets Jaunes ? Nul ne saurait le dire mais l'actuel étiolement du mouvement trouve ses origines dans l'absence de structuration politique à même d'assurer sa pérennité.