Reproductive Rights

9 Big Moments For Abortion Rights That Happened In 2021

They are... not all good moments.


With 2021 coming to a close, it’s important to look back on how America’s abortion rights landscape has changed in just under a year — especially since many of those rights are in jeopardy. So, here are nine big moments for abortion rights that happened in 2021.

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On Jan. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to require in-person visits for abortion pills during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Access had previously been expanded to allow telemedicine visits during the pandemic.

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By February 2021, 29 out of 50 state legislatures backed anti-abortion agendas, per The Lily. At the time, the states introducing some of the most restrictive measures included South Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and Montana.

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On March 11, Republican lawmakers in Texas introduced Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which would later become one of the most strict anti-abortion laws in the nation.

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In April, reproductive rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute found “2021 is on track to become the most devastating anti-abortion state legislative session in decades.” At that point, there had been at least 560 abortion restrictions introduced in states across the country.

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By July, “more abortion restrictions [had] been enacted across the U.S. this year than in any previous year,” per the Guttmacher Institute. These restrictions include near-total abortion bans, six-week bans, “trigger” bans, medication abortion restrictions, and more.

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On Sept. 1, 2021, SB8 went into effect in Texas, banning nearly all abortions from being performed in the state. SB8 also allowed people to file a lawsuit for a “bounty” of $10,000 or more against anyone accused of helping someone get an abortion against the law.

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On Nov. 1, the Supreme Court once again heard arguments challenging the enforcement of SB8, Texas’ restrictive abortion ban. On Dec. 10, the court ruled providers can indeed challenge the law, but left it in effect in the meantime.


On Dec. 1, the court heard first arguments in Mississippi’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case, about whether pre-viability restrictions on abortion are constitutional. Advocates worry this decision could overturn Roe v. Wade.

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Some hope: On Dec. 16, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to permanently allow patients to receive abortion medication by mail, instead of requiring them to obtain the pills in person from health care providers.

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What’s next? SB8 is still being fought in court, and a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson is expected in June of next year. 2022 may be a whole new landscape.

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