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How Texas abortion ban in fact led to rise in infant mortality and birth defects

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A recent study from Johns Hopkins University reveals that Texas has experienced a rise in infant mortality and birth defects following the implementation of its abortion ban in September 2021.
The research, which was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that Texas saw an 8% increase in its infant mortality rate in 2022, compared to a 2% increase in the rest of the United States.This amounted to 216 more infant deaths than expected from March to December of the following year.
The study compared infant deaths in Texas with those in 28 other states, some of which also have abortion restrictions. Specifically, Texas saw a 23% increase in the number of deaths caused by birth defects, while the rest of the US experienced a 3% decrease. The Texas law prohibits abortions after detecting cardiac activity, usually at around five to six weeks into pregnancy, before most tests for fetal abnormalities can be conducted.
Alison Gemmill, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, author of the study, told USA Today about the negative of abortion ban. She said, “It just points to some of the devastating consequences of abortion bans that maybe people weren’t thinking about when they passed these laws.” She also referred to the fatalities that occurred after the implementation of the Texas heartbeat law as the “spillover effects on moms and babies.”
“I think these findings make clear the potentially devastating consequences that abortion bans can have,” said Suzanne Bell, a fertility researcher and co-author of the study, quoted by AP.
Bell noted that infant deaths are relatively rare, so the team was somewhat surprised by the findings. Due to the small number of cases, the researchers could not analyze the data to see if the rates were higher among certain races or socioeconomic groups.
The research team also indicated an unexpected factor due to limited data preventing them from breaking down the rates for different population groups, such as racial or socioeconomic demographics. However, this was not a surprise for experts like Tiffany Green, who have extensively studied racial inequities in reproductive health.
Although the findings are significant, Bell mentioned that the small numbers involved made it difficult to draw definitive conclusions for specific subpopulations. This complexity underscores the necessity for further research and resources to understand and address the broader impacts of such policies.
Green emphasized the vulnerability of individuals who typically seek abortions, pointing out that restrictive abortion laws could compound existing health disparities.
Texas governor Greg Abbott’s spokesperson, Andrew Mahaleris, responded to the study’s conclusions by standing by Texas’s anti-abortion legislation in a statement to USA Today. He highlighted the 2021 heartbeat law, stating its purpose was “to save the innocent unborn, and now thousands of children have been given a chance at life.”





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