Maternal deaths higher in abortion-restricted states, report finds

Maternal and infant death rates are significantly higher in states that have restricted or banned abortion compared to states where abortion is accessible, according to a Dec. 14 report from the Commonwealth Fund.

In 2020, maternal death rates were 62 percent higher in abortion-restricted states, the report found. The death rate for women of reproductive age was also 34 percent higher in abortion-restricted states between 2018 and 2020, suggesting poorer outcomes were not only tied to pregnany-related deaths. 

When compared to states where abortion is accessible, infant mortality in the first 27 days of life was 30 percent higher in abortion-restricted states in 2019.

Overall, abortion-restricted states offered less access to prenatal and maternal care, and reported more significant racial health inequities.  

"States can protect access to care for birthing people and their infants by expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, extending Medicaid postpartum coverage to one year, recruiting more maternity care providers, and promoting the opening of more birthing facilities," Laurie Zephyrin, MD, senior vice president for Advancing Health Equity at the Commonwealth Fund, said in a Dec. 14 news release emailed to Becker's. "These actions would help to shore up our maternal health system in the face a reproductive healthcare crisis."

The Commonwealth Fund used data from the CDC, Health Resources and Services Administration, and March of Dimes to compile the report.

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