Aug 25, 2022 - Economy

Report: Pregnant people face "systemic" barriers in states with abortion restrictions

Data: National Partnership for Women and Families; Map: Jacque Schrag and Skye Witley/Axios
Data: National Partnership for Women and Families; Map: Jacque Schrag and Skye Witley/Axios

States that have enacted abortion restrictions or bans also have "systemic" barriers in place that impede "the health and economic security of pregnant and birthing people and their families," according to a new report from the nonpartisan and nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Families first shared with Axios.

Driving the news: The report, which comes as three states are poised to enact trigger bans, shows that gaps in policies remain.

Details: Every state that has failed to adopt Medicaid expansion — 12 in total — has implemented some form of restriction on abortion, the report notes. This leaves 2.2 million adults uninsured, the majority of whom are women of color.

  • Several states that have abortion restrictions in place also lack postpartum Medicaid coverage beyond 60 days after birth, which the report calls a critical gap given that 33% of pregnancy-related deaths occur in the postpartum period.
  • Black women are especially vulnerable as they are 3.5 times more likely to suffer a late maternal death compared to white women.
  • But only 11 states and D.C. offer paid leave, including paid parental, family and medical leave, per the report. Most of the states that do not are somewhat or very restrictive on abortion.
  • Many of these states also lack workplace protections like fair scheduling and pregnancy accommodations, notes the report, which points to Latina, Black and immigrant workers who are more likely to hold inflexible jobs and be denied requests to have a bottle of water on hand or sit instead of stand.

State of play: "The systemic failure to enact policies that protect abortion access, promote high-quality health​ ​care, and advance economic justice leave pregnant and parenting people caught in an​ ​impossible bind, with their health and economic security threatened at nearly every turn," the report states.

  • "These barriers are further compounded by lost wages due to a lack of paid leave or sick days, the cost of accommodations and child care, and a lack of personal transportation."
  • Such policies have a disproportionate effect on communities of color, according to the report.

What they're saying: "Abortion bans harm people in one very specific way, but what we wanted to pull out was that intersectionality and the way all of these issues are deeply tied to each other," Shaina Goodman, the National Partnership's director for reproductive health and rights, told Axios.

  • When the states that ban abortion are the same states that fail to support pregnant and parenting people, "what does it mean to be forcing people to carry a pregnancy to term?" Goodman said.
  • These policies "are not interchangeable," added Sharita Gruberg, vice president of economic justice at the National Partnership. "It's holistic needs ... a range of supports that we need and rights protected," she said, pointing to legislation like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
  • "It's not that you can swap out paid leave for abortion access. It's both and, because the benefits are mutually reinforcing, as well as the harms of removing any of these basic safeguards are mutually reinforcing."
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