New Report Links Abortion Restrictions To Higher Maternal And Infant Mortality Rates

Long before Woe v. Rade was overturned, medical professionals were already warning the public about the perils of restricting abortion. Whitney Rice, the Director of the Center for Reproductive Health Research in the Southeast at Emory University, informed CNN that it would lead to an increase in people seeking out "unsafe ways of terminating a pregnancy," which in turn could have "harmful consequences." 

Rice also noted that pregnant people would have no choice but to "continue pregnancies to term and could have a risk of infant health outcomes that include low birth weight, preterm birth, or may have a risk of maternal mortality." In fact, the United States already has an alarmingly high maternal mortality rate thanks to unsafe abortions (via WHO). According to the CDC, as of 2020, there were 24 deaths per 100,000 live births. 

Ironically, research also shows that states that have imposed abortion bans fare the worst when it comes to providing adequate social services to women and infants, per an analysis from The New York Times. Now that it's been months since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, experts may have been proven right. Newly-released findings suggest that state abortion bans have an adverse impact on maternal and infant mortality rates. 

Maternal death rates are significantly higher in states with abortion restrictions

According to a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund alongside researchers from Boston University, states that have bans or restrictions on abortion have much higher rates of maternal and infant deaths compared to those with full access. The discrepancy is staggering, with abortion-restriction states boasting damning death rates that are 62% higher than those that have maintained access. Moreover, these restrictive states were found to provide poor maternity care and have more "maternity care deserts," aka counties with absolutely zero obstetric facilities, per NPR

It's worth noting that the study also confirmed what everyone knew all along — that people of color are the most seriously impacted by the bans. Even before this research, there was already a growing body of evidence that showcased how people of color had up to three times the risk of pregnancy-related mortality as their white counterparts (via Kaiser Family Foundation).

These facts are hard to digest, but Dr. Laurie Zephyrin, an obstetrician/gynecologist who co-wrote the Commonwealth Fund study, highlighted why it's vital that they remain in the mainstream consciousness. "It's important to keep the issue in the forefront because then that continues to bring it to awareness for everyday people so that people that are suffering from these inequities are not suffering in the shadows," she argued (via NBC News). "And hopefully, it'll help drive policy change."