Archive for Supreme Court

brave [not!] new [not!] world

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2022 by xi'an

“…the “central paradox” in the debate over the future of abortion: [14] States with the most restrictive abortion policies also show the weakest maternal and child health outcomes and are least likely to invest in at-risk populations.” The Commonwealth Fund, March 8

“In Louisiana, lawmakers are considering a proposal to classify ending a pregnancy at any point from the moment of fertilization as homicide. And the Idaho State Legislature may hold hearings on outlawing emergency contraceptives…” NYT, May 11

“Arizona enacted an abortion ban in cases of genetic indication, and South Dakota banned abortion if the fetus has Down syndrome.” Guttmacher Institute,

Most of the 21 states with laws on the books that would “snap back” abortion restrictions if the court overturns Roe fall into the bottom half of state rankings on a wide array of measures tracking the well-being of children and families, including childhood poverty, low birth weight and premature births, access to health insurance for low-income mothers, availability of prenatal care and the share of kids enrolled in early childhood education… ” CNN, December 14, 2021

“Six states banned providers from mailing the abortion medication to patients, and seven states either required the provider and patient to meet in person or banned the use of telehealth.” Guttmacher Institute,

“Arkansas also passed legislation in 2021 that would make abortion in the state an unclassified felony unless a procedure is undertaken to save the life of a pregnant woman.” Newsweek, May 20, 2021

“…in Alabama, legislation signed in 2019 bans the procedure at any stage of a pregnancy, with doctors facing the possibility of life imprisonment for performing one.” Newsweek, May 20, 2021

“Lawmakers in Missouri weighed legislation early this year that would allow individuals to sue anyone helping a patient cross state lines for an abortion (…) In Texas, a law passed last year made it illegal to ship medication for self-managed abortion, including across state lines” The Guardian,  5 May

 

put the data aside [SCOTUS v. evidence]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2022 by xi'an

Reposted from a Nature editorial:

(…) Moving in the opposite direction runs contrary to 50 years of research from around the world showing that abortion access is a crucial component of health care and is important for women’s equal participation in society. After the Supreme Court agreed to hear Mississippi’s case last year, Nature covered some of this evidence, submitted to the court by US scientific societies and more than 800 US researchers in public health, reproductive health, social sciences and economics, to the court in advance of the case’s hearing in December.

Some outcomes of outlawing abortion can be predicted by what’s known. Researchers expect overall infant and maternal health to decline in the United States in the wake of abortion bans, because more unintended pregnancies will be brought to term. Unintended pregnancies are associated with an increased risk of health problems for babies, and often for mothers, for several reasons — including reduced prenatal care.

Maternal health is also expected to decline overall. One straightforward reason is that the risks of dying from pregnancy-related causes are much greater than the risks of dying because of a legal abortion. A predicted rise in maternal mortality among Black women in the United States is particularly distressing, because the rate is already unacceptably high. In one study, sociologist Amanda Stevenson at the University of Colorado Boulder modelled a hypothetical situation in which abortions are banned throughout the United States, and found that the lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes for non-Hispanic Black women would rise from 1 in 1,300 to 1 in 1,000.

One claim made by abortion opponents in this case is that abortions no longer benefit women and even cause them harm, but dozens of studies contradict this. In just one, health economist Sarah Miller at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her colleagues assessed around 560 women of comparable age and financial standing who sought abortions. They found that, five years after pregnancy, women who were denied the procedure had experienced a substantial increase in debt, bankruptcies, evictions and other dire financial events — whereas the financial standing of women who had received an abortion had remained stable or improved. A primary reason that women give for wanting an abortion is an inability to afford to raise the child, and this study suggests that they understand their own situations.

Abortion bans will extract an unequal toll on society. Some 75% of women who choose to have abortions are in a low income bracket and nearly 60% already have children, according to one court brief submitted ahead of the December hearing and signed by more than 150 economists. Travelling across state lines to receive care will be particularly difficult for people who do not have the funds for flights or the ability to take time off work, or who struggle to find childcare.

Unfortunately, some of the justices seem to be disregarding these data. At the December hearing, Julie Rikelman, a lawyer at the non-profit Center for Reproductive Rights, headquartered in New York City, brought up studies presented in the economists’ brief; Roberts interrupted her and suggested “putting that data aside”. In the leaked draft opinion, Alito also elides a body of research on abortion policy, writing that it’s “hard for anyone — and in particular for a court — to assess” the effect of the right to abortion on women’s lives.

Such an attitude suggests that the justices see research as secondary to the question of whether the US Constitution should protect abortion. But the outcome of this ruling isn’t an academic puzzle. The Supreme Court needs to accept that the consensus of research, knowledge and scholarship — the evidence on which societies must base their laws — shows how real lives hang in the balance. Already, the United States claims the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality among wealthy nations. Should the court overturn Roe v. Wade, these grim statistics will only get worse.

America after Roe

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on May 5, 2022 by xi'an

systemic realities?!

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2022 by xi'an

While the US Supreme Court has all but abolished Roe v. Wade, by allowing Texas to keep banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, The New York Times continues to publish opinion pieces from anti-abortion editors. Like this one this weekend from an Anglican priest who can make preachifying statements like Roe v. Wade creating “realities where abortion becomes the easier choice for women who have unintended pregnancies” or where “pressure from the medical community to abort is common”… Or yet stating that “many European countries have far more restrictive abortion laws and lower abortion rates than the United States without curtailing the advancement of women.” As analysed in another NYT article,  this is also an argument made by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., ill-boding for the future of the law. This is when solely considering the cutoff of Roe v. Wade, rather than the access to abortion which proves much more inaccessible in most US States than Western Europe countries (with the exceptions of Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, and Malta, plus Poland), from local regulations to financial hurdles, to inexistent offer. (And I wonder at the repeated use of realities in the tribune. There is one reality and it is pretty harsh on women seeking abortion. Unless one prefers alternative facts…)

Nature on U.S. abortion laws

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2021 by xi'an

The 26 October issue of Nature has a news article on the involvement of US scientists and scientific organisations in fact-checking the dubious arguments made by anti-abortion supporters, incl. several US States. None of them (arguments) are convincing or objective, but providing data and statistical models to counter them is welcome, especially in a scientific journal like Nature.

“…an initiative to compare women who had abortions with those who wanted them, but were turned away from clinics for various reasons, including state restrictions or a lack of doctor availability. Called the Turnaway Study, the effort followed about 1,000 women in the United States for five years after they sought abortions. The women were similar in terms of physical, mental and economic well-being initially, but diverged over time (…) on average, receiving an abortion didn’t harm women’s mental or physical health, but being denied an abortion resulted in some negative financial and health outcomes.”

“Allowing states to ban abortion might even increase maternal and infant mortality rates (…) Unwanted pregnancies are associated with worse health outcomes for several reasons, including that people who plan their pregnancies tend to change their behaviour — drinking less alcohol, for example — and receive prenatal medical care long before those who are surprised by their pregnancy and don’t want it.”

“statistical methods developed over the past 30 years allow researchers to isolate and measure the effects of abortion policies (…) Abortion legalization in the 1970s helped to increase women’s educational attainment, participation in the labour force and earnings — especially for single Black women.”

“The United States is alone among wealthy nations in not mandating paid maternity leave (…) a single parent earning the minimum wage would need to spend more than two-thirds of their income on childcare, with care for the average infant costing about US$10,400 per year (…) two main reasons that women give for seeking abortions are concerns about money and caring for existing children.”

%d bloggers like this: