Abortion Bans and the Effect on Infant Mortality Rates

There is no doubt that abortion bans are dangerous – for the women whose choice is ripped away from them, for the doctors who are unsure how to provide proper care within the limits of restrictive laws, and especially for the women who are forced to give birth to a baby that is clearly unable to survive outside of the womb. A new study has proven just how life-threatening these bans are.  

A recent study released by JAMA Pediatrics investigates the impact of Texas Senate Bill (SB8), also known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” on infant mortality rates in Texas. The research highlights the alarming consequences of SB8, a law that bans abortions after embryonic cardiac activity is detected, with no exceptions for congenital anomalies. A population-based cohort study examined infant mortality rates in Texas from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, revealing a significant increase in infant deaths following the enactment of SB8. 

The study found that infant deaths in Texas rose by 12.9% from 2021 to 2022, significantly higher than the 1.8% increase observed in the rest of the United States. Notably, an estimated 216 excess infant deaths occurred in Texas from March to December 2022, with particularly high spikes in April, July, September, and October. Additionally, the increase in deaths due to congenital anomalies was stark, with a 22.9% rise in Texas compared to a 3.1% decrease in the rest of the country.

These deaths occurred before the infants’ first birthdays, due to fatal birth defects or genetic problems. Usually, these pregnancies would have been terminated to avoid this trauma for the parents, however, the Texas law does not provide exceptions for these conditions. The pregnant individual is legally obligated to carry these pregnancies to term.

These findings suggest that SB8 not only strips women of their reproductive rights, but also has profound and tragic implications for infant mortality. As states continue to pass restrictive abortion laws, the public health impact and the emotional trauma experienced by affected families must be taken into account.

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