Report: States' Abortion Restrictions Tied to Worse Health Outcomes for Women, Children

October 2, 2014 — States that have enacted more abortion restrictions tend to fare worse on women and children's health outcomes and have fewer policies in place that support their health and well-being, according to a report released Wednesday by Ibis Reproductive Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Huffington Post reports (Bassett, Huffington Post, 10/1).

Report Details

For the report, researchers tracked which states implemented 14 types of abortion restrictions, including laws imposing mandatory counseling and ultrasounds (Walters, Texas Tribune, 10/1). The researchers then compared the number of abortion restrictions in each state with wellness scores for women and children based on several health indicators, such as how many adult women had received Pap tests, rates of domestic violence, and the percentages of dental coverage and mental health care among children.

In addition, the researchers compared the number of abortion restrictions in each state with the number of policies enacted that support the health and well-being of women and children, such as whether the state expanded Medicaid or requires that pregnant workers receive reasonable accommodations.

According to the report, Kansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma have implemented 14 of the abortion restrictions examined; 22 states have implemented between 11 and 13; and only Vermont has not implemented any of the 14 abortion restrictions.

Key Findings

Overall, researchers found that states with more abortion restrictions performed worse on health indicators for women and children. For example Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa -- which respectively have zero, two and six of the abortion restrictions in place -- scored the best on those indicators.

By contrast, most of the states with more than 10 abortion restrictions performed poorly on health indicators for women and children. According to the report, such states included Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

While the report did not adjust for income, it found that the percentage of low-income residents did not fully explain differing health results between states. For example, the report noted that Arizona and Texas are middle-income states, but have some of the highest levels of abortion restrictions and scored poorly on health indicators. Meanwhile, certain lower-income states -- including Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia -- fared better on health indicators compared with other states in that income range that had more abortion restrictions (Huffington Post, 10/1).

The researchers also found that states with more abortion restrictions had implemented fewer policies to help the health and well-being of children. In addition, the report found that states with more conservative leadership tended to have more abortion restrictions, fewer state-funded health policies and worse health outcomes (Texas Tribune, 10/1).

CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement, "This report exposes the flimsy claims of politicians who have been shutting down women's health care providers under the patently false pretext of protecting women's health" (Huffington Post, 10/1).