Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Saturday, June 24, 2023

One Year after Dobbs . . .

When Women Became No Longer Human, Part 13: Women's Lives (and Deaths) One Year After Dobbs (24 June 2023)

As if maternal mortality rates in the United States weren't bad enough before Dobbs, a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (now KFF), "National Survey of OBGYNs’ Experiences After Dobbs," provides necessary data about the effect of the 2022 forced birth decision and its impact on medical professionals who specialize in women's healthcare.

You can access the full report by clicking here.

Meanwhile, here are the highlights (lowlights?):

Key Findings

    • Since the Dobbs decision, half of OBGYNs practicing in states where abortion is banned say they have had patients in their practice who were unable to obtain an abortion they sought. This is the case for one in four (24%) office-based OBGYNs nationally.
    • Nationally, one in five office-based OBGYNs (20%) report they have personally felt constraints on their ability to provide care for miscarriages and other pregnancy-related medical emergencies [emphasis added] since the Dobbs decision. In states where abortion is banned, this share rises to four in ten OBGYNs (40%).
    • Four in ten OBGYNs nationally (44%), and six in ten practicing in states where abortion is banned or where there are gestational limits, say their decision-making autonomy has become worse since the Dobbs ruling. Over a third of OBGYNs nationally (36%), and half practicing in states where abortion is banned (55%) or where there are gestational limits (47%), say their ability to practice within the standard of care has become worse.
    • Most OBGYNs (68%) say the ruling has worsened their ability to manage pregnancy-related emergencies [emphasis added]. Large shares also believe that the Dobbs decision has worsened pregnancy-related mortality (64%) [emphasis added], racial and ethnic inequities in maternal health (70%) and the ability to attract new OBGYNs to the field (55%).
    • Two-thirds of OBGYNs nationally (68%) say they understand the circumstances under which abortion is legal in the state they practice very well. However, among OBGYNs in states where abortion is restricted by gestational limits the share is lower (45%) compared to those practicing in states where abortion is available under most circumstances (79%) or banned (68%).
    • Over four in ten (42%) OBGYNs report that they are very or somewhat concerned about their own legal risk when making decisions about patient care and the necessity of abortion. This rises to more than half of OBGYNs practicing in states with gestational limits (59%) and abortion bans (61%).
    • Eight in ten OBGYNs approve of a recent policy change from the FDA that allows certified pharmacies to dispense medication abortion pills.
    • Nearly one in five (18%) officed-based OBGYNs nationally say that they are providing abortion services after the Dobbs About three in ten OBGYNs (29%) practicing in states where abortion is available under most circumstances offer abortion care, compared to just 10% in states with gestational restrictions. There were already large differences between states prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Many of the states that have abortion restrictions today had these or similar restrictions in place prior to the Dobbs decision.
    • Nationally, 14% of OBGYNs say they provide in-person medication abortions, but only 5% say they provide telehealth medication abortions.
    • In states where abortion is banned, essentially no OBGYNs offer abortions, except under very limited circumstances. Additionally, nearly half (48%) of OBGYNs in these states only offer information, such as online resources, to help patients seek out abortion services on their own, but 30% do not even offer their patients referrals to another clinician or any information about abortion.
    • More than half (55%) of OBGYNs nationally say they have seen an increase in the share of patients seeking some form of contraception since the Dobbs ruling, particularly sterilization (43%) and IUDs and implants (47%).
    • Nearly all OBGYNs offer their patients some form of contraceptive care, but only 29% make all methods of contraception available to their patients, including all three methods of emergency contraception (copper intrauterine device (IUD), ulipristal acetate/Ella, and levonorgestrel/Plan B).
    • Only one-third of OBGYNs (34%) prescribe or provide all three methods of emergency contraception and one in seven (15%) do not provide any methods of emergency contraception to their patients. A quarter of OBGYNS (25%) only prescribe or provide Plan B, which is available over the counter.
    • Availability of care via telehealth expanded greatly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, almost seven in ten OBGYNs (69%) nationally say they provide at least some care via telehealth.

From "A National Survey of OBGYNs' Experiences
after Dobbs" (p. 15)

This is our brave new world.

Update, 29 June 2023: Here's a great link to Grace Haley's "A Year Without Roe: In the Data," posted at Jessica Valenti's Abortion, Every Day.
The data and research that's come out over these last few weeks paint a stark picture of our first year without Roe. We wanted to share with you what people’s lives have looked like by pulling out a few statistics to pay particular attention to. There are three main themes encapsulated by these reports: documenting the harm done by abortion bans, the shifting public view on abortion, and accounting for what the future will look like in the post-Roe world.
Update, 12 September 2023: For ways to address the problem of maternal mortality, see Mara Gay's NYT opinion piece, "America Already Knows How to Make Childbirth Safer" (click here).

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