New Report Debunks Politicians’ Disingenuous Claims about Protecting Women’s Health and Safety in Passing Abortion Restrictions

States with Highest Number of Abortion Restrictions Have Poorest Health Outcomes, Least Supportive Policies for Women and Children

(PRESS RELEASE) States with the highest number of abortion restrictions have the poorest health outcomes and least supportive policies for women and children, according to a new report jointly issued today by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health.

The report—titled Evaluating Priorities: Measuring Women and Children’s Health and Well-Being Against Abortion Restrictions in the States—evaluates the assertions of anti-choice politicians against real, evidence-based policies that actually advance the well-being of women and families, finding that many of the same states that have passed abortion restrictions under the guise of protecting women are severely lacking in policies that would truly address the challenges women and their families face every day.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“This report exposes the flimsy claims of politicians who have been shutting down women’s health care providers under the patently false pretext of protecting women’s health.

“It clearly demonstrates how women and families have suffered as politicians put their ideological agenda before the real needs of their constituents.

“The real goal of these restrictions on abortion has never been to protect women, but rather to cut off access to safe, legal care for women who have made the decision to end a pregnancy. 

“Women do not need any more laws that pretend to protect their health and safety while putting both in jeopardy. They need the real thing.  It’s time these politicians check their priorities, and finally be held accountable to the women and children of their states.”

This analysis comes at a time when women’s access to essential reproductive health care is under siege like never before, with politicians in nearly 30 states enacting more than 200 laws since 2011 in their effort to make it harder, or in some cases impossible, to access abortion services. Despite the fact that abortion is one of the very safest medical procedures, politicians are advancing these laws under the false pretense that it will make abortion safer and improve women’s health.

Politicians in states like Texas and Louisiana have made the claim that restrictions on abortion services protect women’s health and safety, despite the fact that leading medical associations—including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist—oppose such restrictions precisely because they are a threat to women’s health, lives, and well-being.

“It is critical to look closely at what is happening in states where an alarming number of abortion restrictions are either in place or being proposed,” said Kelly Blanchard, president of Ibis Reproductive Health.  “Our analysis shows that many policymakers working to restrict abortion are ignoring the evidence about what policies are well-documented to improve women’s and children’s lives.”

The report examined state-level policies and broad health, social, and economic indicators and outcomes related to the well-being of women and children against state-level restrictions on abortion.  Findings include:

  • The more abortion restrictions a state has on the books, the less likely they are to have evidence-based policies that promote the health and well-being of women and children.
    • For example, Kansas and Mississippi both have the maximum number of abortion restrictions (14 in total), but have only adopted 6 policies (of 18 total) demonstrated to promote the health and well-being of women and children.
  • States that have the most restrictions on abortion consistently have the worst health outcomes for women and children.
    • For example, Oklahoma has the maximum number of abortion restrictions (14 in total) and has some of the country’s worst outcomes for women’s health – including higher maternal mortality rates, higher uninsured rates, and lower rates of cancer screening, among other outcomes – and some of the worst outcomes for children’s health – including higher infant and child mortality rates, lower rates of preventive care, and higher rates of teen alcohol and drug abuse, among other indicators.

Many of the abortion restrictions referenced in today’s report would be addressed by the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.