Black women are disproportionately impacted by racial and ethnic healthcare reproductive policies in the United States healthcare system. A recent study found that low birth weight was more common among Black kids born to moms living in areas with stricter reproductive restrictions.
While this information is worrisome, it is only a small part of the larger discussion about the effects of restricting access to maternal health services.
This risk was echoed in a pioneering study on maternal mortality published in The Lancet. The U.S. has one of the highest maternal death rates among industrialized nations.
The United States was found to have the highest maternal death rate among industrialized nations after a six-month investigation sponsored by NPR and ProPublica in 2017. States with more stringent reproductive policies have a far greater problem.
Disproportionate Harm to Minority Groups
Black women are disproportionately impacted by racial and ethnic healthcare inequities in the United States healthcare system. According to the CDC, Black women have a three- to fourfold increased risk of maternal mortality compared to White women.
This topic is clarified by the latest studies: Disparities in infant mortality and negative birth outcomes by race and ethnicity are at unacceptably high rates in the United States. When people are more likely to experience structural racism, they are also more likely to experience fetal growth restriction and infant death.
Look at the fact that the probability of having a baby with low birth weight was 8% lower for Black women residing in the least restrictive states compared to those residing in the most restrictive states. This number demonstrates reproductive rights’ buffering effect, particularly for underrepresented communities.
Women are less likely to have a baby early if they have access to helpful programs like free or low-cost birth control, readily available Planned Parenthood locations, and encouraging prenatal healthcare.
Infants with low birth weight typically were born prematurely. Lack of access to care or distrust of the medical establishment, which is predominantly White, contributes to a greater incidence of preterm birth among women of color, making racial disparities in healthcare a serious problem.
Centers for Family Planning Do Not Perform Abortions.
The U.S. has laws and policies that allow women to decide for themselves whether to become pregnant and whether to carry it to term. Nevertheless, individual states have the authority to determine the scope of such programs and the extent to which they apply to their inhabitants, thus limiting citizens’ ability to exercise their reproductive rights.
Dedicated family planning clinics for women, such as Planned Parenthood, have the unfortunate reputation of being misunderstood as abortion mills. Actually, they help women have access to a wide range of prenatal health care that are essential for having a healthy baby at term. When these facilities are shut down due to state policy, women lose access to much more than abortions.
Not only are there risks to the mother’s health during pregnancy, but pregnancy also carries its own risks. Unwanted pregnancies have the same risk factors as planned pregnancies, reflecting underlying medical issues like obesity and hypertension.
The health of both mother and child is put at risk when women lack access to appropriate reproductive health care, especially when the expecting mother already has health issues.
Constraints on reproductive freedom are associated with unfavorable birth outcomes.
More babies are born with health problems because of laws, including limiting access to birth control, requiring parental approval, waiting periods, and financing limits on abortions, which all contribute to greater rates of low birth weight, infant mortality, and preterm delivery.
Higher rates of unintended pregnancies directly result from these laws, which also make it difficult or impossible to access contraception.
Women in the most restrictive states for reproductive rights have fewer alternatives when planning a pregnancy or preventing an unwanted one. But, as Langdon argues, organizations like Planned Parenthood are an excellent beginning point in any state and may help connect women to additional options that may be useful to them.