According to the hyper-partisan lifenews.com, Arkansas is the most pro-life state in America. If you’re paying attention, the status of “most pro-life” does not seem to coincide with good policy or good outcomes.
LifeNews does not report its methods of determining the rankings, but it has a list of all 50 states with Arkansas in the “coveted” spot of #1 on the “Life List” for the fourth year in a row.
The article specifically says that the top five states “currently have abortion bans in place that protect babies from abortions and allow legitimate medical care for pregnant women.”
That last part is a real head scratcher. Let’s look at the facts.
We recently wrote about the bleak state of maternal care in Arkansas. Start there for a primer about Arkansas specifically.
A main takeaway to remember is that lack of access to abortion is correlated with high maternal mortality. This is largely because doctors flee in droves from states that tell them how they can and cannot practice medicine. It’s settled medical practice that abortions are medically necessary for treating complications like placental abruption, bleeding from placenta previa, preeclampsia or eclampsia, and cardiac renal conditions. In these cases and more, abortion can preserve the life, health, and future fertility of the pregnant woman.
We’d call that legitimate medical care, wouldn’t you?
Take a look at the states with highest maternal mortality:
LifeNews lauded the top five states on its “Life List,” but a quick cross reference shows that four of the top five most “pro-life” states are also in the top five for maternal mortality.
You read that right:
The most politically “pro-life” states are also the most dangerous places to be pregnant, give birth, or be in a postpartum period.
Another important rating is that of infant mortality. Those who call themselves politically “pro-life” should naturally be the same folks who pass laws protecting infants, right?
Wrong. Take a look at the top five states for infant mortality.
You’ll count three states that overlap with the top five on the LifeNews “Life List.”
So not only are “pro-life” states dangerous for pregnant, birthing, and postpartum mothers, they are dangerous for babies, too. The irony would be baffling if it weren’t so devastatingly thick.
On a related note, the most egregious Medicaid purge in the country has made Arkansas an even more dangerous place to need health care.
We want an Arkansas where women and babies can thrive throughout the lifespan by accessing the health care they need. This happens with good policy, and it starts with rooting out extremism in leadership in our state. Arkansans are worth the work it will take to create better outcomes for mothers and babies.