Recent findings directly contradict the charge often made by anti-choice politicians that pushing through abortion restrictions is based on an overarching desire to protect the health and safety of women.
States that have the most abortion restrictions also have the worst health outcomes for women and children, according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health.
The report examined state-level policies and broad health, social, and economic indicators and outcomes related to the well-being of women and children against state-level restrictions on abortion.
It found that many of the same states that have passed abortion restrictions have also failed to institute policies that would promote the health and well-being of women and families. Moreover, the more abortion restrictions a state has on the books, the less likely it is to have evidence-based policies designed to protect women and children’s health.
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Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that the report exposes the claims of legislators who have supported—and sometimes forced through—legislation targeting abortion providers under the premise of protecting women’s health.
“It clearly demonstrates how women and families have suffered as politicians put their ideological agenda before the real needs of their constituents,” Northup said in a statement. “The real goal of these restrictions on abortion has never been to protect women, but rather to cut off access to safe, legal care for women who have made the decision to end a pregnancy.”
The analysis comes in the awake of a significant number of legislative attempts to severely restrict access to reproductive health care. The number of states that have targeted regulations of abortion providers, known as TRAP laws, has more than doubled since 2000. Over the past three years, 181 anti-choice laws have been enacted, mostly by legislatures with Republican majorities.
“It is critical to look closely at what is happening in states where an alarming number of abortion restrictions are either in place or being proposed,” said Kelly Blanchard, president of Ibis Reproductive Health. “Our analysis shows that many policymakers working to restrict abortion are ignoring the evidence about what policies are well-documented to improve women’s and children’s lives.”
When these restrictions passed in states like Louisiana, lawmakers have often justified them as protecting the health and safety of women. However, there is overwhelming evidence that abortion is safe and highly regulated.
Kansas and Mississippi both have 14 legal restrictions on abortion, but have adopted only six policies, out of the 18 examined, to promote the health and well-being of women and children. Both states have not expanded Medicaid for low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, which is costing the states a combined $19.8 billion in federal funding over the next ten years.
Mississippi this year enacted a law that bans abortion after 20 weeks‘ gestation, which actually bans abortion after 18 weeks. In 2013, Kansas passed an omnibus abortion bill that includes several restrictions on abortion access, including a ban on any state funds from being used to partially or fully fund an abortion or the operation of an abortion facility.