San Francisco Named Best Place for Reproductive Freedom Out of 50 Major U.S. Cities

A new report evaluating reproductive rights protections across 50 major cities in the U.S. has identified San Francisco as the city "best equipped to protect and advance reproductive freedom."

Out of the 50 cities analyzed, San Francisco was the only one to receive a score of 4.5 stars out of 5 in the National Institute for Reproductive Health's (NIRH) second-ever edition of its Local Reproductive Freedom Index, which was published on Monday.

Chicago and New York followed closely behind, receiving four stars, while Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C. all saw a 3.5-star rating.

Other cities did not fare quite as well in the index, of course, with Billings, Montana, receiving the worst score of all 50 cities, getting just half-a-star for its failure to protect abortion access, fund reproductive healthcare and support young people and families seeking reproductive healthcare.

In an interview with Newsweek, NIRH President Andrea Miller said that while some cities scored higher than others, she wanted to make clear that the index is not meant to "call anyone out."

Rather, she said, it was created to "provide a snapshot and inspiration with ideas for how to improve.

In 2017, for example, Jacksonville had been named the lowest-performing city when it came to ensuring reproductive freedom, Miller said.

However, she said, "they actually improved their score in the intervening years," with Jacksonville rising up the ranks in the index and earning a 1.5-star rating.

The NIRH's rating system analyzed dozens of major cities along 34 indicators based on municipal policies, including on "access to abortion care, comprehensive sexuality education and paid family leave."

It comes amid ongoing efforts by states across the country to push forward anti-abortion legislation in the hopes that Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that saw abortion legalized in the U.S., will be overturned.

"Since taking office, the Trump-Pence administration has emboldened anti-abortion extremists, spurring a spate of state-level laws intended to eliminate abortion access and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade," the report asserts. Yet, "the report demonstrates that many bright spots exist–even in red states–and charts a road map for other cities to follow suit."

"Just two years after NIRH released its inaugural Local Index in 2017, which established a baseline of what can be done at the local level, cities across the country have embraced and expanded the vision of protecting reproductive freedom at the local level," it states. Jacksonville, Miller said, is just one example of that.

Golden Gate bridge
A general view of the Golden Gate Bridge seen from Marshall's Beach on March 3, 2017 in San Fransisco, California. San Francisco has been championed for its efforts to protect reproductive rights in a new index report. Matthew Baker/Getty