New Report: Women’s and Children’s Health Suffers in States Like Texas With More Abortion Restrictions

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In the past few years, we have witnessed an unprecedented number of political attacks on reproductive healthcare: Conservatives in state legislatures passed more abortion restrictions from 2011 to 2013 than in the entire previous decade.

In Texas, the anti-choice legislators who support HB 2 defend their actions by claiming that they are “raising the standard of care” for women—while defunding women’s health care programs and closing the vast majority of abortion clinics in Texas.

A new research report shows how outlandish and dangerous those claims truly are.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health, states with more abortion restrictions have the poorest health outcomes for both women and children.

One more time, with feeling: The states with the most aggressive anti-choice politicians—the same “pro-family” lawmakers who claim to protect babies, kids, and women—have the worst track records for family health.

The researchers who conducted the study analyzed five topic areas of health indicators: abortion restrictions, women’s health outcomes, children’s health outcomes, social determinants of health, and policies supportive of women’s and children’s well-being.

Using data from government and nonprofit organizations, the researchers compared states’ abortion restrictions to indicators of health and well-being.

They found that, of the states with seven to 14 abortion restrictions, 71 percent were below the median overall score for well-being—Texas included.

Texas, which has 12 of the 14 restrictions included in the analysis, ranked 40th in well-being.

Additionally, Texas and Oklahoma had the lowest children’s health scores and met none of the 15 benchmarks for children’s health.

According to the report, “The negative relationship between the number of abortion restrictions and the number of policies that support women’s and children’s well-being was stronger than any of the other sub-topics. With few exceptions, states that have passed multiple policies to restrict abortions have passed fewer evidence-based policies to support women’s and children’s well-being.

Of course, this research only reaffirms what we already know from watching the Texas GOP in action: Anti-choice legislators are extremely vocal about “protecting” vulnerable populations when they are restricting access to women’s health care, but they aren’t so eager to actually support the safety nets that protect their constituents.

“This analysis emphasizes the need for state policymakers to focus on broadly improving the well-being of women and children, rather than restricting access to needed health care services such as abortion,” the report concludes.

Abortion restrictions are bad enough, but the paternalistic “we-know-what’s-best-for-you” attitude from the anti-choice movement is the cherry on top of this shit sundae.

When Pro-Life Texas and Jodie Laubenberg team up to fully fund pap smears and pre-K education, I’ll consider entertaining the idea that they actually care about women, kids, and Texas families. Until then, I’ll call it as I see it: These laws are dangerous, extreme, and a poor substitute for the health care policies that Texans actually need.

Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.

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About Author

Natalie San Luis

Natalie is a native Texan, a feminist, and a writer, focusing on reproductive justice, race, and pop culture. When she's not writing (and sometimes when she is), she's brewing beer, drinking beer, and reading stuff on the Internet. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, xoJane, The Billfold, Culturemap, and E3W Review of Books. She tweets from @nsanluis.

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