Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pregnancy related deaths doubled in Texas after the state forced abortion clinics to close

The campaign in Texas to shutter reproductive health clinics has worked---to drive up the death rate from pregnancy.

In 2012, 148 women died from complications from pregnancy and childbirth in Texas — nearly double the number the state reported in 2010, according to a study in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. And although researchers have discovered no causal link for the rapid increase (which they call "puzzling"), it happens to coincide with legislation passed in Texas in 2011 that closed 82 family-planning clinics in the state, one-third of which were Planned Parenthoods.
(There was a second law, passed in 2013, despite the justly celebrated fillibuster by Wendy Davis, 
that imposed absurd requirements on abortion clinics causing most to have to close. The bill in 2011 severely cut funding to clinics.)
The closures eliminated 8,000 appointment spots, as well as the last place women could get abortions between Fort Worth and El Paso, according to NPR. (For those unfamiliar with Texas geography, the distance between the two cities is a little more than 600 miles.) Two years after the closures, researchers found that the number of Texas women's-health program served was cut in half — and low-income women in particular had more unwanted pregnancies and more babies. What's more, a survey conducted in 2015 found that, since the closures, an estimated 100,000 women in Texas have attempted to self-induce abortion.
In the study, researchers note the closures: "There were some changes in the provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics," they write. But they go on to say that, "In the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality rate within a two-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely." A future study will look at the state separately and divide its population by race and ethnicity to better explain the "unusual" data.
While the authors of the study resist drawing this conclusion, we can tentatively infer that right wing legislators on a fact-free campaign to restrict abortion have the same effect on women's pregnancy related mortality as war, natural disaster or severe economic upheaval.Thankfully, and unexpectedly, the Supremes put an end to this version of anti-abortion legislation (though expect new attempts when the legislatures reconvene.) Let's hope that while abortion clinics still operate in Texas and elsewhere, fewer women will attempt to self-abort.

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