Almost 7M Black women of reproductive age have little, no abortion access: Research

May 15, 2024

More than 50 percent of Black girls and women of reproductive age live in states with little to no abortion access, according to a new report. 

The analysis from National Partnership for Women & Families and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda found that nearly 7 million Black women ages 15-49 live in the 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion.

The number of states to ban or limit abortion care has increased since the 2022 Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to abortion.

Fourteen states have banned the procedure, while others have instituted limitations on the procedure. 

These limitations, the authors of the study state, “significantly harm millions of people across the nation,” including “disrupting their economic futures.”

The study found that 2.7 million Black women living in the 26 states are “economically insecure” and 1.4 million of them work in service jobs. These situations make it less likely for pregnant women to access resources such as paid sick days, flexible scheduling and the financial capabilities to travel to states that allow abortion. 

More than 58 percent of the women in these states are also already mothers, but polling from In Our Own Voice found that, since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, 46 percent of Black women in these states reported thinking about not having any additional children. Thirty-four percent reported worrying about being arrested in relation to a pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion care. 

Forty-three percent also reported thinking about the risk of maternal mortality to themselves or a partner. 

Black women have some of the highest rates of maternal mortality, though most maternal deaths are preventable. 

The report states that abortion bans exacerbate the maternal mortality rate for minority women because hospitals have closed their maternity wings, creating widespread maternity care deserts. 

In some cases, providers are leaving states with abortion bans, adding to the shortage of healthcare providers. Those that stay may be forced to compromise care, including to women experiencing pregnancy complications or emergencies.

Of the 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion, 17 also have above-average maternal mortality rates, the report found. 

Eight percent of Black women of reproductive age live in Georgia, which has a six-week abortion ban and one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. 

About 9 percent of Black women of reproductive age live in Texas, where abortion is banned and where Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than any other minority group. 

Eight percent of Black women of reproductive age live in Florida, which bans nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Black women in Florida are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than white women. 

The organizations are now urging lawmakers to use the Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda as a guide for creating policy “that strengthen access to and coverage of abortion, to dignified and safe pregnancy and birth, to equitable health care, and to the social, economic, political, and cultural supports needed for Black people and families to thrive.”