Health experts see an increase in maternal mortality after roe deer

Note: Select mortality data not available due to reliability and confidentiality limitations;  Data: CDC;  Map: Jacque Schrag / Axios
Note: Select mortality data not available due to reliability and confidentiality limitations; Data: CDC; Map: Jacque Schrag / Axios

The six states with the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation quickly banned abortion following the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, fueling concerns about the birth of more babies in areas with poor health outcomes and fewer safety programs for mothers and babies.

Because matter: US women were already more likely to die during or after pregnancy than anywhere else in the developed world, and public health experts predict that things will get worse in the post-Roe landscape as health professionals rate legal exposure versus clinical decisions.

Driving news: Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi top the CDC list of states with the highest maternal mortality, each with more than 30 deaths per 100,000 live births. Each had “trigger” laws, or abortion bans that went into effect soon after the Supreme Court eliminated a federal right to procedure.

  • Maternal mortality rates in states with “trigger” laws are on average nearly twice as high as in states with laws protecting access to abortion.
  • Most of these states are identified as having “maternity care deserts” with no hospitals offering obstetric care, birth centers, and no midwifery providers.
  • The combination of more restrictive abortion laws, more births and insufficient care could leave those states “completely unprepared for the ramifications in the life, health and well-being of women, children and families that these bans will cause,” said Andrea Miller. , president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, which advocates access to abortion care.
  • The maternal mortality rate in the United States could increase by 24% if a nationwide abortion ban is enacted, according to a University of Colorado study.
  • If abortion were illegal in the 26 states that have already banned abortion or likely will, there would have been another 64 maternal deaths in 2020, according to research, which is not yet peer-reviewed.

Other side: Anti-abortion forces contest any link between the abortion ban and maternal mortality.

  • It is “dishonest and scientifically inaccurate” to claim that there is a connection because the CDC data is “incomplete,” said Tara Sander Lee, senior researcher and director of life sciences at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research organization. .
  • The data “makes it impossible to calculate the true maternal mortality rate in the United States,” Lee added.

The big picture: Maternal mortality is driving health policy decisions, with more states taking steps such as expanding Medicaid coverage of maternity services.

  • A rise in pregnancy-related deaths in minority communities is drawing more attention to the mosaic of maternal health standards and entrenched health disparities.
  • The topic is fed into the hot national debate on abortion.

  • The University of Colorado study, which has not been peer-reviewed, predicted that in the first year following a nationwide abortion ban, the number of maternal deaths would increase by 13%, from a baseline of 861. to 969. In subsequent years, maternal illness deaths would increase by 210, or 24%.

Between the lines: States with restrictive laws instead of outright bans – such as Ohio, which outlaws the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy – may also see an increase in maternal deaths, said Katie McHugh, an Indiana gynecologist and abortion provider and member. of the council with Doctors for reproductive health.

  • “There is a possibility that we can intervene and terminate a pregnancy soon,” McHugh told Axios, but added that “when people decide to terminate their pregnancy for a medical reason, this is almost always discovered later.”
  • “Medical conditions develop and are diagnosed during pregnancy, and that does not minimize the risk of long-term health consequences for the pregnant person. In fact, sometimes the diagnoses that are made in the middle of pregnancy are the most devastating. “.

What we are looking at: Some state laws contain exceptions to save the life of the pregnant person. But how doctors need to demonstrate which patients are eligible in an emergency could put providers in an unsustainable position and be “confusing for those who practice medicine,” said Jen Villavicencio, head of equity transformation at the ‘American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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