The push by lawmakers in several states to restrict or ban abortions has reignited debate over the future of guaranteed access to reproductive health services for women. And public health experts are cautioning that there could be a ripple effect on overall maternal care services, especially in states that already struggle with higher than average mortality rates.
So far this year, 10 states have enacted laws that would either narrow the number of weeks a woman is legally allowed to get an abortion or ban access completely, such as in Alabama. None of the new laws have gone into effect and all face legal challenges, with many supporters saying the ultimate goals is overturning Roe v. Wade. In total, more than 370 abortion restrictions have been introduced nationwide since Jan. 1, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Many of the states with the most restrictive abortion laws ranked near the bottom in maternal and infant health outcomes and in the bottom half of states in clinical care access for women and infants, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled by America’s Health Rankings.
“We fully expect that ‘heartbeat bills’ and other life-affirming legislation will save lives and lead to a greater sense of respect and dignity of every person,” said Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, one the nation’s largest Christian conservative organizations that supports eliminating abortion. “As for the ongoing care of both mothers and their children, Christians will continue to come alongside families both before and after birth to offer practical and loving assistance.”