Abortion ban to increase maternal mortality even more, research shows | CU Boulder today

New data shows that banning abortion would lead to more maternal deaths than previously thought, a critical finding less than a week after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade.

According to new CU Boulder research based on newly available data from 2020, such a ban would increase maternal mortality by 24%, up 14% from previous data from 2017.

In this study, researchers focused only on how maternal mortality is affected by abortion, simply because data shows that staying pregnant carries a higher risk of death than abortion. The Centers for Disease Control reported 0.41 deaths per 100,000 legal abortions between 2013-18 and that the maternal death rate in 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Other factors were not taken into account, such as how society will facilitate access to abortion for those living in states where it is illegal or how criminalization will affect the search for health care.

“The earlier estimates were based on abortion rates, births and maternal deaths from five years ago. Since then, abortions have increased, births have declined and maternal death rates have worsened,” said Amanda Stevenson, an assistant professor of sociology at CU Boulder and lead author of the paper.

Stevenson and co-authors Leslie Root and Jane Menken — all researchers at the Institute of Behavioral Science — estimate that in the first year after a nationwide abortion ban, maternal deaths would increase from 861 to 969 (a 13 percent increase). In subsequent years, the maternal death rate would increase from baseline by 210, a 24% increase.

Chart comparing maternal mortality in states where abortion is or will become illegal

For black people, the numbers are even more alarming: The projected increase in maternal deaths if abortion were banned in every state rose 18% to 39%.

“There is a robust network of black-led research showing how we can better support black pregnant people who are 2-3 times more likely to die because they are pregnant than other groups,” Stevenson said.

When looking specifically at the 26 states that have already banned or are planning to ban abortion after the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, researchers found a lot of variation. In states with already high maternal mortality rates and moderate to high abortion rates, such as Florida and Georgia, researchers estimate that maternal mortality will increase by 29%.

By contrast, states like Nebraska, Missouri and West Virginia, which have already made it difficult to have an abortion, are expected to see little to no change just because of the increased risk of staying pregnant.

Researchers estimate that if abortions had not been allowed in these 26 states by 2020, there would have been 64 more death-related deaths. The new findings have not yet been peer-reviewed.

To combat this alarming trend, the researchers say helping people in states where abortion is illegal to gain legal access to reproductive care, invest in the maternal health crisis and address the shocking inequalities that cause astronomically high maternal deaths, are all ways to better support pregnant women. people in the US

“Our estimates show how we can prevent the post-Dobbs abortion ban from increasing the already tragically high number of pregnancy-related deaths in the US,” Stevenson said. “Pregnancy shouldn’t kill people — in other rich countries it even rarely does.”

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