Can Dobbs Save Women from Dying of Forced Birth? Combining Epidemiologic Evidence with Constitutional Rational-Basis Review
November 30th @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
A joint Department of Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program Seminar
Carol Hogue, ScD
Professor Emerita of Epidemiology and Jules and Uldeen Terry Professor Emerita of Maternal and Child Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Life-threatening morbidity and mortality risks are central to maternal health care decision making, including abortion. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, childbirth was estimated to be 4 times as likely to cause the mother’s death as was abortion. Recognizing this issue, Roe articulated standards aimed at balancing competing maternal and fetal interests. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) eliminated the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe. In its place, Dobbs substituted a rationality rule to evaluate state abortion laws based on balancing “respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development” and “the protection of maternal health and safety.” Since 1973 maternal mortality has risen to be more than 50 times as deadly as abortion. In this presentation, we will utilize current epidemiologic evidence to explore the proposition that balancing prenatal life against protecting maternal health will render unconstitutional not only states’ restrictive abortion laws that lead to forced birth but also restrictive clinical policies that endanger maternal health.