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Fears of broader maternal care deserts as US states push to ban abortion

Louisiana is fighting to become a leader in the race to criminalise doctors who allegedly provide abortions, since the US supreme court ended federal abortion protections.

In doing so, the state may also become an example of how abortion bans could worsen maternal health in America, as criminal penalties across the US redefine where and how doctors are willing to practice.

In turn, that is likely to worsen a leading reason some states are more dangerous places to give birth – lack of hospitals, birthing centres and obstetricians.

“It should be no surprise that in a lot of the states where there’s a [trigger ban], there’s a strong correlation [with maternity care deserts],” said Stacey Stewart, president and chief executive of the March of Dimes, an organization that advocates for maternal and infant health and is strictly neutral on abortion.

Many of the same states hostile to abortion have also pursued intersecting policies that can worsen health overall for residents, such as refusal to expand a public health health insurance program for the poor, called Medicaid.

Now, the severe criminal penalties and extraordinary civil liability doctors are exposed to under such anti-abortion statutes could become fundamental to how and where healthcare providers decide to practice.

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Source: The Guardian, 8 July 2022


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