Publication Date: 
Thursday, January 17, 2019

Refusal laws, sometimes known as “conscience clauses,” allow an individual or facility to refuse to participate in an abortion based on a moral or religious objection to the procedure. State laws vary as to who may refuse to participate an abortion procedure, and whether ancillary abortion services, such as counseling or referral, are included. Currently, nearly every state has a law that allows medical providers, other related personnel, and medical facilities to refuse to provide abortion services. Some state refusal laws also include minimum protections for the patient seeking an abortion, such as notifying the patient of the refusal, or providing a referral for alternate care. 

This dataset explores abortion refusal laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in effec as of December 1, 2018, as well as case law and attorney general opinions that affect the enforceability of these laws.

This map was created as part of the Abortion Law Project, a collaboration between the Policy Surveillance Program, Guttmacher Institute, Resources for Abortion Delivery (RAD), American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Reproductive Rights, National Abortion Federation, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.