POV: Overturning Roe v. Wade Will Worsen Health Inequities in All Reproductive Care

The recent national conversation has appropriately focused on the devastating impact of limiting or banning access to abortion care. Conservative estimates show that in the year following the overturning of Roe, at least 75,000 people who want, but cannot get, abortions will give birth instead. And these people are facing higher than ever—and rising—pregnancy-related mortality rates. Despite our world-class healthcare facilities, at least 700 women already die of pregnancy-related complications each year in the United States (use of the gender-specific term throughout reflects limitations in research). But not all pregnant people are at equal risk. Black and American Indian or Alaskan Native (AIAN) women have pregnancy-related mortality rates that are over three times (American Indian) and two times (Alaskan Native) higher compared to the rate for white women (40.8 and 29.7 vs. 12.7 per 100,000 live births). Women of color are more likely to enter prenatal care late or not at all, which is a risk factor for preterm birth and low birth weight. This is one of the reasons that infants born to Black and native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women are over twice as likely to die relative to those born to white women (10.8 and 9.4 vs. 4.6 per 1,000), and the mortality rate for infants born to AIAN women (8.2 per 1,000) is nearly twice as high.

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