Friday, October 7, 2022


Following a settlement with tribes, SD phases In voting-access reforms; older voters: formidable factor in Maine gubernatorial race; walking: a simple way to boost heart health.


Biden makes a major move on marijuana laws; the U.S. and its allies begin exercises amid North Korean threats; and Generation Z says it's paying close attention to the 2022 midterms.


Rural residents are more vulnerable to a winter wave of COVID-19, branding could be key for rural communities attracting newcomers, and the Lummi Nation's totem pole made it from Washington state to D.C.

Roe Fallout Could Put More Pressure on Rural Childbirth Care


Tuesday, July 5, 2022   

By Liz Carey for The Daily Yonder.
Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Prairie News Service for the Public News Service/Daily Yonder Collaboration

Already strained rural obstetrics units could find themselves dealing with even more maternity cases if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

The court is expected to make a decision on a challenge to Roe v. Wade at the end of June, or the beginning of July. In May, a leaked draft opinion suggested that the Court is poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that established abortion rights protections nationwide. If the case is overruled, it could lead to abortion bans in nearly half of the country's states.

The resulting pregnancies, experts said, could add to the problems rural communities are experiencing when it comes to quality maternity care in their areas.

"We are already under-staffed and under-resourced for deliveries in rural areas," said Brock Slabach, COO of the National Rural Health Association. "We have maternity deserts in rural areas all over the country. If, as expected, Roe is overturned, we could have real capacity issues with many more live births."

In Michigan, he said, officials anticipate between 8,000 and 20,000 additional live births per year.

"That could overwhelm a lot of hospitals," he said. "Let me be clear - the maternity care crisis is already here. I don't want to say that it's going to get bad. It's already bad, but we are going to have to do a lot to... beef up our resources to be able to accommodate the volume of people that are going to be delivering if Roe is overturned."

According to the Commonwealth Fund, rural hospitals are closing their obstetric (OB) units, leaving fewer than half of the country's rural counties with those services. With fewer OB units, rural women are facing longer travel times to get to a hospital that can deliver their babies. The OB unit closures also mean increases in births outside hospitals, births in hospitals without obstetrics care, and preterm births - all of which put both mother and child at risk.

Katy Backes Kozhimannil, professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, said restricted access to abortion services would affect miscarriages and reproductive health as well.

"These services will be needed by rural residents, increasingly, at a time when rural hospitals are closing obstetric units, and rural emergency departments are ill-equipped to support emergency births and other obstetric care emergencies," she said.

"Beyond the walls of the clinic or hospital, further restrictions on reproductive health care in rural communities carry important risks for pregnant people and families, who bear the burden of suffering when needed health care is not available."

Already maternal sickness and mortality is higher for rural residents, she said. Those rates would likely increase if access to abortions is restricted. The impact would most be felt by marginalized communities within rural areas, she said.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the more rural an area is, the higher the rate of deaths among pregnant women. The GAO found that rural areas with small urban clusters saw 19.8 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births, where rural areas with no urban clusters saw 23.8 deaths. In comparison, large metropolitan areas with over 1 million residents saw 14.6 deaths per every 100,000 live births, while small and mid-sized metropolitan areas saw 16.2 deaths.

Greater disparities exist by race and ethnicity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found. Black women in rural counties had 59.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 19.7 for white women in those same counties.

"Rural communities where a majority of people are Black or Indigenous already suffer higher rates of premature death, and these are the same communities where access to rural maternity care is declining most rapidly," Kozhimannil said. "Lack of access to abortion care and other reproductive health care services is likely to amplify risk of severe maternal morbidity and mortality among those who are already at greatest risk: rural residents who are Black or Indigenous."

The impact would also be felt in emergency departments, she said, that would likely see increases in births, miscarriages, and the complications that could result from illegal abortions.

Liz Carey wrote this article for The Daily Yonder.

get more stories like this via email

In a recent lawsuit, a federal judge found nearly 10 examples in which the State of South Dakota had made it difficult for Native Americans to register to vote. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

This election season, South Dakota is starting to implement voting-access reforms in light of a recent settlement with Native American tribes…

Social Issues

Between rising inflation and the ups and downs of the stock market, it isn't surprising that folks are concerned about their own financial situation…

Social Issues

The U.S. Postal Service is hiring 28,000 seasonal employees ahead of the surge in end-of-year holiday letters and packages for facilities in Michigan …

The average monthly Social Security benefit in August was $1,546. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

The roughly 2.4 million Ohioans who rely on Social Security income are expected to get a big boost in benefits, but advocates for the program are …

Social Issues

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her challenger, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, both are courting votes from Maine's largest contingency -- …

Methane released into the atmosphere is responsible for at least 25% of current global warming, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. (


Ahead of revised methane regulations expected from the federal government, a new study shows that gas flaring in oil-producing states such as Texas …

Health and Wellness

Even for people who think they're too busy to exercise, experts say there's one surefire way to squeeze in a modest workout: walking. Although often …

Social Issues

Groups challenging the criminal consequences for failing to pay rent in Arkansas say they'll take another run at it, perhaps as a class-action …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021