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Greater Abortion Access, Fewer Abortion Regulations Save Lives

As states across the nation move to constrain women’s abortion rights, U.S. maternal mortality continues to rise. The trend stands in contrast to other nations, which has seen sharp drops in deaths during and after pregnancy.

Republican’s haven’t made a peep about the upswing in maternal mortality. They have, however, moved to increase it by working to slash social safety net programs, remove maternity coverage mandated in the Affordable Care Act, limit access to birth control, and force women to carry to term even pregnancies resulting from rape. Republicans’ stark opposition to any policy that could lower abortion rates or reduce maternal mortality suggests their anti-choice politics have nothing to do with protecting life.

A study that’s gotten little press attention quietly argues that increased access to abortion could save women’s lives. In the midst of a maternity care crisis, the research argues, fewer—not more—abortion regulations could mean the difference between life and death. Republicans continue to attempt to regulate the practice, in spite of data suggesting regulations harm women.

Saving Women’s Lives With Abortion

The study—a doctoral thesis that looked at maternal mortality across the globe—emphasizes that unsafe abortion kills tens of thousands each year. In 2015, more than 300,000 women worldwide died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

The dissertation’s recommendations include:

  • Increasing access to knowledge about abortion. When providers understand abortion and the reasons women seek it, they are more likely to offer quality care.

  • Allowing midwives, not just doctors, to perform abortions. Research suggests that increasing the number of abortion providers can improve outcomes and lower the number of unsafe abortions.

  • Increasing access to contraceptives.

  • Improving women’s access to chemical abortions, including the so-called abortion pill.

  • Educating medical students about abortion laws. Doing so reduces stigma and increases empathy toward women who seek abortions.

Republican Anti-Abortion Measures Can Kill Women

Pro-life sentiments seem only to extend to the fetus—not the woman who carries it, and certainly not the baby after he or she is born. Their anti-abortion maneuvers read like an exact mirror image of recommendations to save women’s lives.

State legislatures have enacted measures to:

  • Require doctors to provide women with medically inaccurate abortion information.

  • Limit which providers can perform abortions, and in which contexts.

  • Decrease access to the abortion pill.

  • Force women to carry pregnancies to term, even if those pregnancies threaten their lives.

Under a Trump administration, these laws are likely headed to the Supreme Court, where abortion rights face an uncertain future. As men fight over what women can do with their bodies, women’s lives hang in the balance.