Map of united states. Yellow indicates no waiting period. Blue indicates less than 24 hour waiting period. Red indicated 24 hours or more waiting period. Referenced from Sudhinaraset, May, et al. “Women’s Reproductive Rights Policies and Adverse Birth Outcomes: A State-Level Analysis to Assess the Role of Race and Nativity Status.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2020).

Reproductive rights remain a contested and highly debated topic, largely left up to the discretion of states to decide on more or less restrictive policies. However, recent research has provided evidence that states with less restrictive policies see better birth outcomes. In a new study released just a week ago on October 13th, Sudhinaraset and her team compared several reproductive policies across states including, mandatory parent consent for minors seeking abortion, mandatory waiting periods, restrictions on public funding for abortion, percentage of women living in counties with abortion providers, expanded eligibility for Medicaid family planning services, and mandatory sexual education in schools. The results show that women in most restrictive states showed a 7% higher low birth weight risk when compared to women in the least restrictive states. They also showed the less restrictive policies are particularly protective against adverse birth outcomes for Black women. As more restrictive policies are being put in place and status of certain reproductive rights remains unclear, this study provides important evidence that increased access to abortion and mandated sexual education programs leads to better birth outcomes for American women.

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