You know there’s something to celebrate when The New York Times is forced to report in its headline: “The first estimate of births since Dobbs found that almost a quarter of women who would have gotten abortions carried their pregnancies to term.”
The number of infant lives saved by last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision is estimated at 32,000, according to a report by researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Middlebury College, and the German Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
The team analyzed birth data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—data spanning from 2005 to the first six months of 2023.
“The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked the most profound transformation of the landscape of abortion access in 50 years,” wrote team representatives in their report, “The Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility.”
While noting that their findings were preliminary, the researchers wrote that since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2023, “states with abortion bans experienced an average increase in births of 2.3 percent relative to states where abortion was not restricted.”
They estimated that “roughly one-fifth to one-fourth of people seeking abortions did not receive them due to bans.”
The tens of thousands of additional births were largely due to the prohibitive distances that expecting mothers were required to travel for an abortion, according to the researchers. They noted that “23 percent of U.S. women of reproductive age have experienced an increase in driving distance to the nearest abortion facility, from an average of 43 miles one-way before Dobbs to 330 miles at present.”
“Effects were especially large for Hispanic women (4.7 percent) and women aged 20-24 (3.3 percent),” the team added. “The estimated increases were larger in states such as Mississippi (4.4 percent) and Texas (5.1 percent), where the geography of bans renders interstate travel more costly.”
Far from celebrating the data, the researchers were troubled by their findings.
They warned that the overturning of Roe v. Wade will “exacerbate economic inequality” and that “diminished abortion access poses a risk to the health and financial stability” of expecting mothers. They likewise cited studies suggesting that “the ability to control fertility has been associated with 40 decades of women’s economic advancement.”
Evidently, the team’s 32,000 figure was not intended for widespread public consumption: It appeared only once in the 64-page study, tucked deep in a paragraph on page 15.
Still, the report is welcomed by pro-life people nationwide. The research not only provides the first clear data that ending Roe has saved lives but also reveals the sentiment many pro-choice advocates have toward saving these lives.
“It’s an assault on reproductive autonomy,” Alison Gemmill, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN.
Rachel Hardeman, professor of health and racial equity at the University of Minnesota, was another to lament the news.
“Restricted access to abortion services causes this domino effect,” Hardeman told CNN, mourning that the overturning of Roe “has had a profound impact on birthing people’s ability to decide what their family looks like and how they navigate that.”
“All of the material resources necessary for a family to not just barely survive, but to thrive in our society are going to be impacted by their ability to access health care, broadly speaking, and abortion care, specifically,” she added.
By contrast, President of Students for Life of America Kristan Hawkins told The New York Times, “The insinuation of a lot of coverage of such data points is that it’s a bad thing for there to be more children welcomed in states with better laws than in states that fast-track abortion.” She added, “It’s a triumph that pro-life policies result in lives saved.”
“Absolutely amazing,” cheered Lila Rose, President and Founder of Live Action, citing the recent findings. “32,000 boys and girls were saved, protected from being killed by abortion, because of the fall of Roe and the life-saving laws that went into effect. Every one of these children is a miracle. This is why we do this work.”
Indeed, the preservation of human life is a cause for celebration. While “32,000” may sound terrifying to the ears of pro-choice advocates, pro-lifers have a reason to rejoice: Lives are being saved.
Image credit: Pexels1 comment