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Report: North Dakota Failing on Reproductive Rights

North Dakota earned a failing grade in a new national scorecard on reproductive health care. (iStockphoto)
North Dakota earned a failing grade in a new national scorecard on reproductive health care. (iStockphoto)
January 11, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. – 2015 was a challenging year for women's reproductive rights, and the new year is shaping up to be just as fierce.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up two big cases on abortion and contraception in the coming months.

But a family planning advocacy group is arguing that some of the biggest challenges are coming in at the state level.

According to a state-by-state scorecard on reproductive health rights from the Population Institute, North Dakota is one of 19 states with a failing grade.

Jennie Wetter, the institute's public policy director, says North Dakota has enacted so-called TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers), which restrict funding or access to reproductive-service providers such as Planned Parenthood.

"Making sure that women can afford birth control, that allows them to plan their lives the way they want,” she stresses. “It really gives women control over their economic futures."

The report notes that about 73 percent of women in North Dakota live in a county without an abortion provider.

Additionally, North Dakota earned failing marks because while the state does mandate sex education programs in public schools, it does not require that students be taught about condoms or contraception.

Wetter says changing this one issue could have several long-term benefits.

"So that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to lead healthy, productive lives, making sure that they don't get pregnant unintentionally, or don't get STDs or STIs," she states.

North Dakota, however, did earn a perfect score on the report for its low rate of unintended pregnancies.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND