With Roe v Wade Overturned, Maternal Mortality Rate Will Rise, Especially in Communities of Color

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Dissecting the consequences of the repeal of Roe v Wade may take a lot of time and fortitude. After all, the message conveyed by the U.S. Supreme Court has been that women no longer have rights over their own bodies. 

However, the scenario is even more Dantean.

Following the repeal of the constitutional right to abortion in the United States, the maternal mortality rate will almost certainly increase, especially among people of color, experts say.

“There are going to be more people who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term, which means that there’s going to be a greater number of people who are at risk,” said Rachel Hardeman, a reproductive health equity professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, to The Guardian. “More pregnancy means more likelihood of deaths.”

According to one estimate, existing state bans could lead to 75,000 more births a year among those unable to access abortion. The prohibitions will disproportionately affect younger, poorer people of color and those who already have children.

One need only take a look at the numbers.

According to 2019 CDC data, people of color are four times more likely to have abortions than Caucasians.

“Black women and other women of color and birthing people already face barriers to accessing basic health care services, never mind reproductive health care services. So the Supreme Court decision today puts our reproductive health rights and safety in even greater dangers,” said Marcela Howell of the National Black women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda to ABC7.

Compared to other countries in the world, the United States is an “incredibly difficult place to be pregnant,” with the highest maternal mortality rate among so-called “developed” countries, and rising steadily.

In the United States, for every 100,000 births, 23.8 people died from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes in 2020, totaling 861 women, according to the CDC.

Now, those numbers are projected to be even more dismal.

A nationwide ban would lead to a 21 percent increase in pregnancy-related mortality nationwide. Still, it would be even worse for people of color, with a 33 percent increase in deaths, according to a study by Amanda Jean Stevenson, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Finally, and as The Guardian continued, states that have now banned or restricted abortion also have some of the highest rates of mortality around pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the highest rates of infant mortality. 

Mississippi, for example, where the supreme case that overturned Roe originated, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates — nearly twice as high as the rest of the country — and the highest infant mortality rate in the country.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, the arguments are increasingly dystopian, and millions of lives are now in more danger than ever.