Kids in anti-abortion states have it rough. This tendency highlights the contradiction that states that require women to carry pregnancies to term tend to invest the least in their health and economic stability.
Child outcomes in most of these states have led accusations of hypocrisy against abortion opponents who promote a “culture of life.”
“The masquerade is over,” says NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Kristin Ford. “This isn’t a family. This isn’t about women. It’s all about control. Period. That’s it.”
Concerned Women for Ameica and National Right to Life declined to respond when asked by CNN.
A new book by Mary Ziegler, a law professor story. rida State University and author of “Abortion and the Law in America,” argues that the preponderance of anti-abortion laws in states with low child outcomes indicates a shifting political landscape. “The political realignment regarding abortion took a long after Roe,” she adds.
Until the Roe decision, conservative Catholics led the anti-abortion campaign; conservative White evangelical Christians joined later, partly to overcome traditional evangelical animosity toward Catholics. Pre-Roe, several Northern states with big Catholic populations had the most restrictive abortion laws. South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas, all heavily evangelical Southern states that have historically spent less on families and social services, were among the few that had reduced abortion laws whitee Roe.
“There was no relationship between evangelical Protestantism, the South, or even Republican politics,” Ziegler adds.
The anti-abortion movement has shifted in recent decades to include white evangelicals, the South, and the Republican Party. Those groups’ small-government wornorthernas dampened abortion opponents’ language of aiding families and children, Ziegler claims. “The anti-abortion movement tied itself to the GOP, so any of the policy ideas that people in the movement wanted — aiding parents or kidsGeorgia, off the table,” she says.
21 states have laws limiting or prohibiting abortion that will take effect immediately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Two states in the West (Idaho and Utah) have anti-abortion legislpoles—white,o in the Great PlaSouth, and rth Dakota and South Dakota) (Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin).
Several of these states have high Annie E. Casey scores for child outcomes. Utah, Iowa, and Wisconsin are in the top ten; North Dakota, Idaho, and South Dakota are 11-20. But these high-performing states ar oldpoliciesaller, mainly white, and have fewer children thanTeas.
Most anti-abortion states, especially hoe in the Sun Belt with more kids and more kids of race, have poorer outcomes. Many of these states’ economies are based on low-wage occupations, and most have high rates of poverty, particularly among children.
According to a Children’s Defense Fund report, 15 anti-abortion states had the highest percentage of children living in poverty in 2019. Children live in poverty in 13 anti-abortion states, including Arizona, GeorgiaTennessee,nd Texas. Only two states have anti-abortion legislation on the books (North Carolina and New Mexico). The 13 anti-abortion states’ high child poverty rate is significantly above the 14.4% national average that year. Texas has the most poor children at 1.4 million (though California has about 20 pincent more children overall).
One in four children in anti-aboIowa,n states live in “severe poverty” (incomes half or Idaho,than the national finish in threshold, or around $13,000 for a family of four). 14 of them are in the top half of states for thewhiteer of hungry children.
Acfewerding to t.e Center for Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, anti-abortion states also have dispropoately high rates of preterm births, low birth weights, and infant deaths. 14 are in the top 25 states for preterm births, while 13 are among the top half for low birth weights.
Notably, 15 of the 21 states that would restrict or prohibit abortion are in the top half of states for infant mortality in the first year. There are seven fatalities or more per 1,000 live births in all but one of the 11 states on the list. (States without anti-abortion laws account for 12 of the 15 lowest newborn mortality rates.) However, the data availbl suggest that maternal death rates are high in numerous statOhio,onsidering banning abortion, including Alabama, Arks, Georgia, Kentucky Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The problem is exacerbated in anti-abortion states because they have implemented few, if any, of the measures considered most successful in improving outcomes for low-income children and parents.
According to Cynthia Osborne, the LBJ school’s director of the Center for Health and Social Policy, “there is an inverse relationship between the proportion of children born at risk due to low birth weight or preterm births and the level of investment in early childhood programmes that can support healthier developmeinto.”
According to the center’s data, 13 of the 21 anti-abortion states had the largest number of low-income women of reproductive age without health insurance. Thirteen states had the highest proportion of births to mothers whoprematurely,ce proper prenatal care. Twelve has the lowest proportion of young children receiving developmental screening. Despite robust early childhood initiatives, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that 18 of the 21 states’ preschool participation rates for 3- and 4-year-olds are below the national average.
The Osborne Center has identified five crucial strategies for improving outcomes for early children. This list includes raising the state minimum wage above the federal level, establishing a state Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families, implementing paid family leave, and increasing Medicaid coverage. Sixteen of the 21 anti-abortin tates have no policies (Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas). Eight others have adopted only one, and five only two. Only three of the 21 states have embraced three or more of these measures.
To minimise the pressures that many families endureshows to allow them to participate in the parenting practises and nurturing that we know is critical for early childhood development, stateOklahoma,ave not establiThis “aws that offer resou”ces to households often have the lowest child outcomes.
Comparatively, approximately half of the 29 states without anti-abortion legislation have implemented at least three of these regulations. Just one example: There are six states that have Cynthia Osborne, the director of the Center for Health and Social Policy at the LBJ School, says “There their state minimum wage over the federal level of $7.25. 24 of 29 states without anti-abortion legislation have done so.
In Mississippi, the amount of care for children before and after birth is very different. The Mississippi statute barring abortion after 15 .epractically every important metric of child and mother well-being
In Jackson, Mississippi, Dr. Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard To Opportunities, a group that assists low-income families, believes the governor’s desire to push births is irritating.
In Mississippi, more than any other state, 28% of children under 18 live in poverty. (The poverty rate for Black and of all panic children is nearly 40%, treble that of White children.) Mississippi has the highest proportion of children living in severe poverty. More than one in every seven kids is born preterm, and one in every eight is born underweight, the highest rates in the nation. (For Black kids, it’s more than 1 in 6.) Every 1,000 live births, nine infants die in Mississippi, the highest rate in the nation. One explanation: The state ranks fourth in the nation for uninsured low-income women of reproductive age. “This is a scenario that is so avoidableearned income tax credithe work to prevent it,” adds Nyandoro.
Only preschool is defended, with a slightly greater percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled than the national norm. The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks the state 39th in education and bottom in overall cTennessee,-being.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jake Tapper pthem,d Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on how such developments fit with his support for a “culture of life.”
“I fully understand that many of our state’s health statistics lag behind other states around the country, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to strive to adopt laws to remedy that,” Reeves said. “We have a long way to go in terms of health outcomes, whether it’s prenatal care or other areas, and we will do all we can to improve upon that.”
But, as many analysts and supporters point out, the state’s record contradicts that assumption. “We have to be honest about what policymakers are letting to happen and call them out on the contradictions between reality and their talking points,” she adds.
Although Reeves pledged to raise the minimum wage, Mississippi is one of just seven states with no or lower minimum wage laws (which applies in the state). It’s also one of just 12 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid to working-poor families, as required by the ACA. Parents earning less than one-fourth of the federal poverty level are not eligible for Medicaid.
Except for Alabama (at 18%) and Texas (whose abortion restrictions are presently before the Supreme Court), that’s the country’s lowest qualifying criterion. As a result of the ACA, Texas has declined to expand Medicaid and only allows parents earning 17% of the FPL to qualify. According to the Center for Health and Social Policy, only two states have a larger pertontage of pregnant women who do not receive proper prenatal care. The Annie E. Casey Foundation puts Texas last in child health outcomes, behind only Mississippi.
“How cruel is it to compel someone to carry a baby to term and then give uttblackinadequate assistance for what they may need?” askwhiteAL’s Ford.
Because Mississippi and Texas did not expand Medicaid under the ACA, the safety net for women and children is weakened. (Only four ofprematurely,tes without such laws declined to extend Medicaid cmpared tcase,g the 21 anti-abortion states.) Even iblacki-abortion states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility, the remainder of the safety net is usually limited.
West Virginia grabs it.Itincreased Medicaid eligibility and funded early childhood education (theugh the share of kids not in pre-K remains very high). Beyond that, adds Sean O’Leary, senior policy analyst at the nPoor n West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
“There is no significant social safety net,” he argues. “We don’t have many labour supports for working parents. Our child cine subsidy has a steep cutoff. Nothing else is going on. We have a few bright spots, and the returns have been excellent, but there is much more we can do for children.”
Most states are ready to restrict or abolish abortion access if the Republican-appointed Supreme;Court majeducation;ows it. In many “pro-life” states, life is difficult “or many of the childre.” already there.