Overall, states with the highest number of abortion restrictions tended to have fewer supportive policies in place to promote the health and well-being of women and children.
While policymakers who support abortion restrictions claim that they want to protect the health and safety of women, these findings suggest otherwise. Generally, states with the highest number of abortion restrictions have not prioritized legislation to improve women’s health.
Abortion restrictions are detrimental to health and disproportionately impact pregnant people of color and people with disabilities, as well as those who are low-income or live in rural areas. Enacting abortion restrictions is not about protecting health, it’s about politics.
This analysis emphasizes the need for state policymakers to shift their focus toward improving the well-being of community members through evidence-based policies, rather than restricting access to abortion care.
Based on this data, can we say that abortion restrictions lead to less supportive policies for women’s and children’s health?
Since our data is cross sectional, we cannot make any conclusions about causality or the direction of the relationship between abortion restrictions and supportive policies. We can, however, examine how abortion restrictions and supportive policies tend to behave in relationship to one another. Based on our findings, it’s most accurate to say:
States with more abortion restrictions tend to have fewer policies supportive of women’s and children’s health.
Does this data tell us that lawmakers are driven by anti-abortion agendas?
This research does not tell us the “why” behind these trends. It is possible that some lawmakers mistakenly believe that abortion restrictions are one way to improve health. Nonetheless, other studies and anecdotal evidence lead us to believe that abortion restrictions are driven by anti-abortion sentiment more than true concern for women’s health.
My state doesn’t fit the trend…what does this mean?
This analysis examines trends across the states. While it is generally the case that states with more restrictions have fewer supportive policies, this may not hold true for every state. For states that are outliers, findings can be used to identify a common interest in women’s and children’s health and push for increased focus on passing more supportive policies rather than abortion restrictions.
- Evaluating Priorities Report 2017
- Evaluating Priorities Report 2014
- What If Roe Fell?
- Infographic: Restricting Roe
- Gaining Ground: Proactive Reproductive Health and Rights Legislation in the States
- Guttmacher Institute
- Kaiser Family Foundation
- Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health
- National Women’s Law Center: State by State
- National Health Law Program Resource Library