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OB-GYNs Sound Alarm Over Maternal Deaths Post Roe

OB-GYNs Sound Alarm Over Maternal Deaths Post Roe

OB-GYNs Sound Alarm Over Maternal Deaths Post Roe

Most OB-GYNs say that overturning Roe v. Wade has worsened pregnancy-related deaths and racial inequality.

One year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the majority of OB-GYNs say that the decision made maternal mortality rates worse.

On Wednesday, KFF published the results of a national survey of OB-GYN doctors, focused on how their field has changed since the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case.

The responses were alarming: 64 percent of OB-GYNs surveyed said that they believe the Supreme Court ruling has "worsened pregnancy-related mortality." To make their warnings more harrowing, a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report from 2021 showed that maternal mortality rates were increasing even before Roe v. Wade was overturned.

70 percent of OB-GYNs surveyed also said they believe the ruling has “worsened racial and ethnic inequities in maternal health.” Their warnings align with an extensive history of healthcare disparities, as systemic racism continues to threaten American public health, especially for black and indigenous people.

For over 800,000 women, the Medicaid coverage gap has limited reproductive health access. Black and Latina women accounted for two-thirds of those in the coverage gap, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Pregnancy-related deaths were also found to be disproportionately high for black and American Indian/Alaskan native women when compared to white, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. Per 100,000 live births, the mortality rate for 2021 was 32.9 deaths, a sharp increase from 23.8 in 2020 and 20.1 in 2019.

For black women, the rate was 69.9 deaths. The CDC's Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System (PMSS) found similar disparities. Per 100,00 live births between 2017-2019, there were 62.8 deaths among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander persons, 39.9 deaths among black persons, and 32.0 deaths among American Indian/Alaska Native persons.

History suggests that limited access to abortions may heed dangerous results — the CDC estimated that in 1972, over 130,000 women obtained illegal abortions, resulting in 32 deaths. Additionally, from 1972 to 1974, deaths from illegal abortions were 12 times higher for nonwhite women than they were for white women.

As the authors of KFF's survey conclude, "The effects of the Dobbs decision on patient care are only beginning to be seen."

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