It’s entirely unsurprising that Arkansas, where lawmakers passed a law that said to women, yes, you can have an abortion after 12 weeks, you just can’t have a safe one, that a report from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health finds a correlation between the number of abortion restrictions and policies that limit services for women and families and produce produce bad health outcomes for them.
The report, “Evaluating Priorities: Measuring Women’s and Children’s Health and Well-being against Abortion Restrictions in the States, Volume II,” concludes that “In general, states that have passed multiple abortion restrictions have passed fewer evidence-based policies to support women’s and children’s well-being, compared to states with fewer restrictions on abortion.”
What are supportive polices? The study identified 24 attainable goals, among them expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, no-wait enrollment of children in CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), full-day kindergarten, expanded family/medical leave, domestic violence training for health care providers, firearm safety laws to protect children, sex education, etc.
Arkansas, which has passed 13 restrictions on abortion (the highest number is 14), fulfills nine of the 24 supportive policies, placing it in the bottom 15 states. It was one of only two states that met none — zero — of the women’s health benchmarks.
From Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“This report makes clear that politicians in states with the most extreme record of attacking reproductive rights are also far less likely to support the kind of programs and policies that actually advance the health and well-being of families.”
“As a result, women and children in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and other states with the harshest abortion restriction also suffer some of the nation’s worst health outcomes.
“What women, children and their families need their elected officials to focus on is increasing access to affordable healthcare, including Medicaid, so women can have prenatal care, cervical cancer screenings, and fewer preterm births. They should invest in healthy kids, who have good nutrition and physical education. This report clearly lays out that politicians pushing extreme anti-choice laws at the expense of public health have their priorities exactly backwards.”
The state legislature says their laws — like requiring rapist consent to an abortion, the demand that every obstetrical record be gathered before an abortion can occur, the demand that a 16-year-old report a pregnancy as a crime even if it was the result of consenting sex — are meant to protect women. Ha. The cynicism and blatant misogyny of the Arkansas lawmakers who would burden women with these laws is unbelievable. Federal Judge Kristine Baker was not fooled; she enjoined enforcement of the laws last Friday.
The Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health noted that “For years, politicians have claimed their motive in passing abortion restrictions was to protect women’s health and safety. The Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt challenged that claim, instead underscoring the importance that real data and women’s lived experiences — and not fake news or false information — should play in reproductive health policy. Today’s report emphasizes that legislators should be taking their cues from data and their constituents’ needs to address the real health concerns in their states, and should stop playing politics with women’s reproductive rights and health. [Our emphasis.]
Find helpful infographics here.