According to an analysis by NBC News, 6 states that have enacted America’s most restrictive abortion bans also have the highest infant mortality rates in the nation.
Among Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, four of those states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Missouri) have declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which has left women’s healthcare lacking. In sum, mothers in those states without healthcare are seeing their children die before their first birthday more often than anywhere else in America.
From NBC News:
The average national infant mortality rate in 2017 was 5.8 per 1,000 live births, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Missouri’s was higher at 6.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Louisiana’s was at 7.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Georgia and Ohio’s rates were at 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, and Alabama’s reached 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births.
But Mississippi had the highest infant mortality rate in the nation — at 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.
“The uninsured rate for women of childbearing age is nearly twice as high in states that have not expanded Medicaid,” research professor Adam Searing told NBC News. “That means a lot more women who don’t have health coverage before they get pregnant or after they have their children,” said Searing. “If states would expand Medicaid coverage, they would improve the health of mothers and babies and save lives.”
Although there’s no direct proof that draconian anti-abortion laws are directly connected to high infant mortality rates, it’s known that women who lack access to prenatal care have higher rates of newborn deaths.
Most alarming was Georgia, which ranked 48 out of 50 according to the 2018 America’s Health Rankings. Joining Georgia at the very bottom was Missouri and Louisiana, with Missouri ranking 42nd and Louisiana ranking 47th.
A 2017 report from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health found that the more abortion constraints a state passed — like mandatory waiting periods, counseling, gestation age limits and restrictions on abortion healthcare coverage — the fewer evidence-based supportive policies it had for women and children.
According to the report, that includes expanding Medicaid, family and medical leave, as well as mandatory sex education.
Read the full report over at NBC News.
Featured image: Elvert Barnes/Flickr)