This article is part of a larger series called “The End of Row.” head Here to read more.
When a draft decision that would completely reverse Roe v. Wade and end abortion access for millions of women leaked in early May, Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the decision, was a curious and inflammatory aside. . he suggested that Black people who have abortions are committing genocide against his own caste. In the draft, Alito wrote that some abortion supporters are “motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population” and that the theory holds true because the majority of people who have abortions are black.
But he did not mention pregnancy-related deaths among the same people.
The real danger for black mothers will come when Alito’s draft becomes the final court ruling. Black women in the US already face dismal maternal mortality rates, and studies have shown that restricting access to abortion will increase pregnancy deaths.
More than half of the states have trigger laws, meaning that if Roe collapses, abortion becomes illegal in that state. Reproductive health experts and advocates have been warning that the result would lead to deadly illegal abortions, criminalization of pregnancy and an increase in the already high black maternal mortality rate.
The United States’ maternal mortality rate is uniquely appalling. The data shows that after years of decline, the rate began to tick back in the year 2000, and researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that two out of three deaths were preventable.
Maternal mortality and the end of crying are inextricably linked. If someone is denied an abortion, she is more likely to stay pregnant. The people who will have the hardest time accessing abortion in a post-Roe world are blacks, And They are more likely to die during pregnancy.
According to the CDC, in 2020 Maternal mortality rate There were 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. But for black people, the death rate was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is 2.9 times the rate for their white counterparts.
Contrary to mainstream anti-abortion talk, abortion deaths are extremely rare. In 2018, the latest data available from the CDC, death of two people From the complications of legal abortion. Statistics show that staying pregnant is the more dangerous option.
“Forcing people to stay pregnant can kill them.”
–Amanda Stevenson, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder
Even though anti-election activists and conservative leaders say their crusade to end legal abortion stems from so-called pro-life beliefs, there is no concern for the lives of pregnant people.
“Pregnancy may be less safe for some,” Jamila Taylor, director of health care reform and senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told HuffPost. “And a lot of it is rooted in health equity and racism.” The worsening black maternal mortality rate is not something that is set in stone, but the result of policy choices.
There are many different reasons why black maternal mortality rates are higher than other racial groups, but most trace to structural racism. Black people are less likely to be heard by their doctors. Higher rates of poverty mean they are more likely to suffer from diseases and ailments that can lead to pregnancy complications. The lack of access to health care means that some complications are missed entirely.
Reversing the row would have impacts across the country, with the brunt falling on the backs of black birthing people and women – many who already live in states with abortion care and high maternal mortality rates.
“The states that have the worst maternal health outcomes also have the strictest abortion restrictions,” Taylor said. “These issues are clearly intertwined.”
In one study, Amanda Stevenson, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, found that if there was a nationwide abortion ban – A Thought on the To-Do List of GOP Politicians , there will be 21% increase Overall in pregnancy-related deaths. That increase would be 33% for black people.
“It is absolutely fatal to remain pregnant and the increase in mortality is deeply and unjustly distributed,” she said. “Forcing people to stay pregnant can kill them.”
Roe’s collapse will mean that in states where abortion is illegal, health care providers trying to save the lives of pregnant patients may also have to deal with stricter policies that are based on science rather than lawmakers. created by.
“I care for patients every week who are making the difficult decision about whether or not to terminate their pregnancy because of the risk to their own health,” Dr. Jonas Swartz, an assistant professor Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University, told HuffPost.
While states with the most severe restrictions, such as Texas and Oklahoma, have exceptions for maternal health reasons, it is not as simple as doctors deciding that abortion is a necessary medical procedure. Swartz said he would have to worry if his argument met legal requirements for abortion.
Doctors treat many patients who deal with health issues that can be life-threatening.
“I have cared for many patients who have had early preeclampsia,” Swartz said, referring to a potentially fatal pregnancy complication. “I have cared for patients who need abortions because they are in kidney failure and patients who face 30-50% mortality when they become pregnant.”
Abortion restrictions can remove the option to end, even if patients face dangerous health consequences. “It’s already hard to make those decisions,” Swartz said. “And these obstacles are making them more difficult.”
A certain faction of religious extremists, conservative activists and Republican politicians have worked for decades to reverse the row. They have taken away reproductive rights by passing laws and restrictions that are already forcing people to criminalize unsafe abortions and pregnancies. The fact that the most marginalized are already suffering under this regime and will suffer more only after being the final nail in the coffin is not something that should come as a surprise to anyone.
For supporters of reproductive rights, the hypocrisy is raging: How can anti-abortion activists call themselves pro-life when they know that the very thing they’re trying to accomplish will lead to more deaths?
But when has the death of black people been a concern for adherents of Christian conservatism? Black people are more likely to die from COVID, from police violence and from poverty. For many people, it’s just business as usual.
There is no fixed number of how many more black people will die from pregnancy-related causes of crying.
“The estimates we have are best guesses and there are a lot of assumptions,” Stevenson said. But that’s not a really important question, she said. “Don’t ask how many will die, but Why? Will more people die?”