The following is a statement from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) President and CEO Richard Besser, MD, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on procedural issues related to a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks and next month considers a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.
Access to safe and high-quality reproductive medical care, including abortion, is an essential element of comprehensive healthcare and health equity. Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare by criminalizing abortion and its providers is a threat to the physical, emotional, and economic well-being of millions. Systemic efforts to deny women and others access to reproductive healthcare have serious consequences. They jeopardize healthcare. They disproportionately harm people and families of color and those with low incomes. They threaten the ability of medical professionals to protect the health of their patients and erode individuals’ rights to make decisions about their own health.
RWJF is committed to advancing health equity in America, which requires acknowledging and addressing all forms of discrimination that create obstacles to healthcare access. Abortion is a vital part of comprehensive reproductive healthcare and restricting access to it compromises the health of pregnant people.
Research shows that states that have restricted access to abortion have increased their maternal mortality rates by nearly 40 percent. Women denied abortions are more likely to experience economic hardship and insecurity in later years.
The nation continues to face a serious maternal health crisis, and recent state laws criminalizing reproductive healthcare and its providers set dangerous precedents. Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of all in America. Laws restricting access to reproductive healthcare assail that goal and hinder the ability for everyone to be as healthy as possible.