So here's a shitty fact that will probably come as no surprise to most people: women in states with fewer abortion restrictions are healthier than women in states where abortion access is more limited. Sigh. I mean, it makes sense, but still. It sucks.
The data comes to us via a study by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health, which wanted to investigate anti-choice lawmakers' frequent claim that they are protecting women by passing abortion restriction. "Anti-choice state legislators are passing and enacting restrictions on abortion under the pretext of protecting women's health and safety," the report explains. The authors decided to test that theory. And, spoiler alert, they found it wanting. Overall, more abortion restrictions in a state meant less overall health for the women who live there.
The study did not control for rates of poverty in its statistical analysis, meaning it's not enough to definitively say that lack of access to abortion has a negative impact on women's health. It could simply be that less wealthy states are more likely to restrict abortion access and to have lower health scores, but that the two might not actually be causally related (though other studies have suggested they might be). Also, the study does not compare women's health relative to men's health, which would be another important component to consider when assessing whether or not abortion restrictions do significant damage to women's health.
Still, the fact that women in supposedly "pro-life" states are less healthy overall makes it clear that abortion restrictions at the very least aren't protecting women's health the way many politicians claim.
However, the most telling part of this study might be the fact that it also revealed states with more abortion restrictions actually have fewer policies specifically aimed at supporting the health and well-being of women and children. In other words, politicians might claim that their desire to restrict abortion is motivated by concern for women's health but that concern seems to vanish as soon as abortion restrictions are passed.
In other words, it seems likely that concern for women's health is probably not the real reason politicians — usually men — want to restrict women's access to abortion. Either that or they are just too unimaginative to come up with any other ways of possibly protecting women's health. But in reality it's probably more likely that supposed concern for women's health really just functions as a smoke screen to hide the fact that some people just really don't think women have the right to terminate a pregnancy — and by extension don't have the right to bodily autonomy. But since you can get in a lot of trouble for saying things like that, it's better to hide behind this totally false idea that abortion is bad for women's health and getting rid of it would be so helpful.
Oh, and did I mention this study shows that kids are also healthier in states where there's more access to abortion? Because it does. So enough of the "Think Of The Children!" stuff, too, please. And the "abortion is a social ill" arguments. And the "baby killer" rhetoric.
Actually enough with all of it.
It's time to stop pretending that trying to deny people abortion access is about anything other than that: denying abortion access. It's a way of denying our rights and freedoms, and it doesn't actually make us any happier or healthier in the end. So seriously, enough is enough.
Images: "Evaluating Priorities" report (3); Giphy (2)