Women Have Poorer Health Outcomes in States With Anti-Abortion Laws

Written by Jessica Merino

On Tuesday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, together with the research organization Ibis Reproductive Health, released a report that revealed, unsurprisingly, that women and children are more likely to experience negative health outcomes in states with higher numbers of anti-abortion laws.

To draw this conclusion, researchers assessed the overall health of women from 2015-2016 and rated states on a scale of 0-24 based on a series of benchmarks—including access to primary care providers, children receiving mental health care, childhood vaccinations and low maternal mortality rates. They found that framing the study in such a clear-cut manner elucidated which states prioritize policies that benefit women and children and which do not.

At the top of the list sits South Carolina, which has mandated 14 abortion restrictions—including limits on insurance coverage for abortion, restrictions on who can perform abortions, time frames within which an abortion can be performed and mandatory counseling on fetal development and pain.

Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma also all soared to the top of the study, meeting the mark for each type of abortion restriction delineated by Ibis. Yet many more states have been caught up in the cascade of anti-abortion policy that began in 2010, when abortion opponents in state capitals across the nation were swept into power. Since then, reproductive health policy-making at the state level has focused almost entirely on restricting abortion, resulting in the enactment of more than 300 anti-abortion bills in the past seven years.

Private organizations in the state are doing their part as well: In an egregious obscuration of facts, Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion legal group, claims that the fact that abortions cost more after week 20 “reflects the greater health risks of later abortions and provides an incentive for the abortion industry to support late-term abortion instead of women’s health and safety.” The reality is that abortions this late make up roughly one percent of total abortions and are carried out almost exclusively for serious health reasons, such as fetal anomalies or threats to mothers’ health. As Alyssa Miller, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic’s director of public affairs for South Carolina told the New York Times, “abortion later in pregnancy is extremely rare and often takes place in complex and difficult situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.”

The immediate, measurable results of these laws and false claims are catastrophic. In 2015, South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate rose nearly 300 percent. That same year, one third of women in the state did not have a dedicated health care provider. These benchmarks—along with teen births, child mortality rates and children with asthma—were all worse than the national average.

Nearly 70 percent of all Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, and a majority support a woman’s right to abortion. As the war on women’s bodily autonomy escalates, this study is a stark reminder that it isn’t just a war for women’s rights—it’s a battle for women’s, and all of our, lives.

Post originally appeared on Ms. Magazine

Photo Credit: Larissa Puro/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W25 days ago

Thank you for posting

Melania P
Melania P4 months ago

This is not surprising at all.... Sharing as well

Penni B
Penni B5 months ago

A large part of the problem is that both the pro-life and the pro-choice groups are using *statist* solutions to the problem. Pro-life folks (like myself) ought to use persuasion, not the 'force' of law, to persuade people. The same applies to the pro-choice folks : those who are pro-life should not be forced to contribute to a tax system that pays for abortion. I believe that both sides should work together to give maximum freedom: this means that we don't force anyone to do what she or he is opposed to. This was originally the idea behind the Constitution and the Bill. of Rights, but it has been warped beyond recognition by *both* sides of the aisle. I'd like to see the wealthiest people on both sides of abortion issue to fund their ideals by assisting the less fortunate on their side. (rather than pushing those on the other side to fund their cause!)

Margie FOURIE5 months ago

The thing is that if anybody wants to play adult games, the must accept the responsibilities.

Chad Anderson
Chad A5 months ago

The real debate is over the status of women and abortion is only a proxy for the real issues. Were abortion the issue, the easy consensus would be an expansive system of maternal health provision, child welfare, and sex education. That abortion restrictions correlate strongly with poor maternal health, poor child welfare, and limited sex ed strongly suggests the common denominator of trying to restrict the status of women.

Angela K
Angela K5 months ago


Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

ANA MARIJA R6 months ago

As much I've learned at least 2 person go into the bed with same rights and responsibilites.... It's 2017! Time for different parenting worldwide.

Philippa P
Philippa Powers6 months ago


jan b
jan b6 months ago

Women are not farm animals who exist for breeding. ANY woman's life is more important than an under-developed fetus that is still a potential human being. E ach yr in the U.S., about 700 women die of pregnancy-related complications and 52,000 experience emergencies such as acute renal failure, shock, respiratory distress, aneurysms and heart surgery. An additional 34,000 barely avoid death. (CDC)
The RISKS of pregnancy are no one else's, not the GOVT...not the protestors of safe abortion.......it's no one else's business. .