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Social programs weak in many states with tough abortion laws

Abortion Social Safety Net
Posted at 9:10 AM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 17:57:40-04

(AP) — States with some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws are also some of the hardest places to have and raise a healthy child, especially for the poor.

An analysis of federal data by The Associated Press raises questions about the strength of the social safety net as up to half the states are poised to ban or greatly restrict access to abortion following an expected U.S. Supreme Court decision later this year.

The AP analyzed figures from several federal government agencies in seven categories — metrics identified by several nonprofits and experts as essential to determining whether children get a healthy start. They were: the percentage of children in poverty; participation in the Women, Infants, Children federal assistance program; the rate of child abuse or neglect; women experiencing intimate partner violence during pregnancy; low birth weight; women receiving no prenatal care in their first trimester; and uninsured children in poverty.

Generally, states with preemptive abortion bans or laws that greatly restrict abortion access showed the worst rankings. Alabama and Louisiana joined Mississippi as the top three states with the highest percentage of babies born with low birth weights. Texas, Indiana and Mississippi had the highest percentage of women receiving no prenatal care during their first trimester. Wyoming, Texas and Utah had the highest percentage of poor children 18 and younger who had no health insurance.

The burden is likely to fall heaviest on those with low incomes, who also are the least able to seek an abortion in other states where the procedure remains widely available.