Study links negative maternal health outcomes and restrictive abortion policies
A new report shows higher rates of negative maternal health outcomes in states with restrictive abortion policies.
In June 2021, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which eliminated the federal constitutional right to an abortion and gave states the opportunity to ban abortions or restrict access to abortions heavily. This report from the research foundation Commonwealth Fund shows that states that are proposing or have implemented restrictive abortion policies or bans have worse maternal and child health outcomes than states that have preserved access to abortion care.
This report drew upon and triangulated public data sources about maternal and child health outcomes, such as the rates of mothers and newborn babies dying during pregnancy, at birth or postpartum. It then stratified the states based upon the Guttmarcher Institute's ratings of states abortion policy restrictiveness ultimately comparing 26-abortion restricting states with the remaining 24 states and the District of Columbia to make the comparison. The 26 states with more restrictive abortion policies account for 55% of all births in the US. In these states, 57% of births were by people under the age of 30 compared to 45% in the other states with more access to abortion services.
Overall, the report shows that states that either implemented or planned to implement more restrictive abortion policies have worse maternal health outcomes. This includes:
- Death rates for women of reproductive age (15 to 44) were 34% higher in abortion-restriction states than in abortion-access states.
- In 2020, maternal death rates were 62% higher in states that have restricted access to abortions than states preserving access to abortion services.
- Maternal death rates increased twice as fast in states that now have abortion restrictions from 2018 to 2020.
- Fetal or infant death in the first week of life was 15% higher, on average, in states with abortion restrictions than in states with wider abortion access in 2019.
- Thirty-nine percent of counties in abortion restrictive states are considered to be “maternal health deserts” compared to 25% in abortion access states.
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