Asthe country careens toward a presidential election in the midst of a raging pandemic, the dueling headlines on public health and politics are a stark indication that, no matter who wins in November, this election will have profound, far-reaching consequences for your physical health and well-being. All this week, Elemental is running a series of stories detailing what’s at stake, from insurance coverage to plans for a pandemic still in progress. Here’s what you should know about the implications of the election on reproductive health and family planning.
The influence of politics over reproductive rights and sexual health is long, complicated, and mostly frustrating, but data shows that the more reproductive rights women have, and the more family planning services they’re able to access, the healthier they and their children are.
A study published in October by researchers at UCLA looked at data from every birth in all 50 states and the District of Columbia during 2016, and found that women who lived in states with less restrictive policies around reproductive rights had healthier babies.
Restrictive policies include things like waiting periods (25 states require women to wait a specific amount of time, usually 24 hours, between abortion counseling and the procedure), mandatory parental consent for minors to receive certain treatments or medications, and living in counties without an abortion provider. “Our study found that women who lived in states with less restrictive policies have lower risks of low-birth-weight babies,” says May Sudhinaraset, PhD, an associate professor of population policy at UCLA.