A report from the Guttmacher Institute showed that aside from experiencing gains in religious liberty protections, 2021 also saw an increase in restrictions meant to advocate and protect life.

Christianity Daily reported last week that 2021 records showed the United States Supreme Court favored religious liberty the same way it did in 2020 amid threats. Now another good news comes through a study released by pro-abortion research organization Guttmacher Institute entitled, "State Policy Trends 2021: The Worst Year For Abortion Rights In Almost Half A Century."

The Christian Post said the Guttmacher study showed that numerous laws at the state level were passed in 2021 that are seen as "setbacks for abortion rights in the United States." There are a total of 106 abortion restrictions that were enacted by 19 states in 2021, which is said to mark "the highest total in any year since abortion rights were affirmed by the US Supreme Court in 1973." This data remarkably exceeded abortion restrictions enacted a decade ago by 89.

"The 106 abortion restrictions enacted in 2021 far surpasses the previous post-Roe record of 89, set in 2011. A total of 1,336 abortion restrictions have been enacted since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973-44% of these in the past decade alone. In addition to abortion bans of all types, restrictions on medication abortion were passed by many state legislatures," the study said.

Guttmacher's study, which reflects the recent changes in the United States Food and Drug Administration's new policy on the use of abortion pills, was first published on December 16 and includes data as of December 1. It explained that the reason for such a pro-life outcome is "buoyed by the Supreme Court's 6-3 anti-abortion majority."

Though a few states repealed abortion restrictions to expand access to abortion services, Guttmacher Institute Policy Associate Elizabeth Nash pointed out in the study that more states hoped that the Supreme Court would really overturn Roe v. Wade.

"These gains are important, but the damage to abortion rights is profound. Abortion access is already very limited for many people, including Black and Brown people, low-income individuals, LGBTQ individuals and young people, as well as those living in the South, the Plains and the Midwest. Many states in these regions have enacted bans that violate the US Constitution in the hope that the Supreme Court will soon eliminate federal constitutional protections for abortion," Nash alleged.

Besides enacting abortion restrictions, states also expanded reproductive health services access while more than half the states now provide access to pregnancy and postpartum care. These provisions are said to decrease racial maternal mortality disparities. Several states also have now allowed the prescription of contraceptives or medications by pharmacists for HIV prevention.

Most notable on the abortion restrictions enacted come from the South with Texas leading the way, though the Guttmacher Institute said in an October study that "the state with the most new restrictions is Arkansas (20), followed by Oklahoma (16), then Indiana, Montana and South Dakota (nine each)."

The study identified "heartbeat bills" being common among states in restricting abortions on the first six weeks of pregnancy, such as those in South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. The abortion restrictions also commonly dealt on "pain-capable" bans after 20 to 24 weeks of gestation such as in Hawaii and Virginia.

Hawaii is also said to have repealed its laws, similar to that of New Jersey's, that require doctors to perform abortions instead of other medical professionals like nurses and midwives, ensuring the procedure is limited to those who are qualified to undertake it and increase protections on women. Other abortion restrictions include unenforceable abortions bans before Roe v. Wade such as in New Mexico and Delaware.