People gather in front of the Georgia State Capital in Atlanta, Friday, June 24, 2022, to protest the Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, revoking citizens’ constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Justice Samuel Alito made a statement on the legality of abortion, as it pertains to constitutional governance.  

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, Roe and Casey are overruled and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives. Like the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe was also egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided.”

This means that individual states now have the power to ban or place restrictions on the procedure. In the state of Georgia, abortion is still legal until 20 weeks after fertilization. However, Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill,”  which would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected, could potentially go into effect. 

According to a research article on pregnancy-related deaths written by sociologist Amanda Stevenson, banning abortion nationwide could increase the maternal mortality rate. 

“In the first year in which all wanted induced abortions in the United States are denied, the estimated annual number of pregnancy-related deaths would increase from 675 to 724 (49 additional deaths, representing a 7% increase), and in subsequent years to 815 (140 additional deaths, for a 21% increase),” said Stevenson. “Non-Hispanic Black people would experience the greatest increase in pregnancy-related deaths: a 12% increase in the first year, and a 33% increase in subsequent years. Hispanic people would experience the next greatest increase in mortality: 6% and 18% increases in the first and subsequent years, respectively. Overall, estimated pregnancy-related deaths would increase for the total population by 7% in the first year of a ban and by 21% in subsequent years.” 

As of 2022, Georgia is ranked second highest in maternal mortality, with a rate of 48.4 per 100,000. This is due to the shocking disparity in health services for pregnant people in Georgia. Out of the 159 counties that are in Georgia, roughly ninety-three of them do not have hospitals that cater to childbirth. Several Georgians living in rural areas have to drive for hours to receive the care they need during their pregnancies. This is an issue especially for families with lower incomes who are less likely to have access to transportation. 

On top of that, minorities are more likely to be affected by maternal mortality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women are most likely to have pregnancy related deaths, followed by Native Americnas, and then Asian women. Further, Black women have often been neglected and ignored by OBGYNs during their pregnancies. Minority groups also face the most poverty, so they are more likely to face the transportation issues that come with seeing an OBGYN in Georgia.

To combat this, government officials and health departments have made an effort to lower Georgia’s maternal mortality rate. Last year, United States senators Marco Rubio and Raphael Warnock introduced the Improving Coordination For Healthy Moms Act, to improve maternal health in the U.S. The Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) also studies maternal deaths to determine why they happen, and in turn, how to reduce them. 

The CDC’s Hear Her Campaign also seeks to raise awareness of urgent maternal warnings during and after pregnancy. The goal of the campaign is to encourage pregnant women to voice their concerns, and for those women to gain support systems that provide them with healthcare. The campaign emphasizes the importance of talking to a healthcare provider whenever maternal warning signs surface.