Spike in Texas infant deaths sparks debate about abortion restrictions

A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that after Texas banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for congenital abnormalities, infant death rates in the state increased by 12.9 percent, while infant death rates only increased by 1.8 percent throughout the rest of the U.S. during the same time frame. A lead author of the study said, “These findings suggest that restrictive abortion policies may have important unintended consequences in terms of infant health and the associated trauma to families and medical costs.” The day the study was published, multiple news outlets covered its findings, and social media users discussed the study across multiple platforms. Some social media users expressed concerns that this trend may foreshadow what will happen in other states that have banned or heavily restricted abortion. Others argued that abortions should be counted as infant deaths and that Texas’s abortion ban has saved lives.

Recommendation: Trending conversations about this study provide an opportunity for health departments, community-based organizations, and other partners to prepare for questions about abortion laws in your state. Ensuring that FAQ sheets and public-facing websites are updated with the latest information about local abortion laws is recommended. These conversations also provide an opportunity to educate people who are pregnant or may become pregnant about when and how they can seek out screening for congenital abnormalities. Sharing local prenatal care resources for pregnant people is also recommended.