A qualitative exploration of the impact of abortion restrictions on people with high-risk pregnancies in Georgia
Awarded 2022
Inequities in abortion access
Nisha Verma, MD, MPH
Emory University

Georgia, in addition to having one of the highest maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the country, heavily regulates abortion. Current data support an association between restricted access to safe and legal abortion and higher rates of maternal morbidity and mortality, with already vulnerable populations experiencing a disparate burden. Researchers have speculated that people with high-risk pregnancies who wish to terminate for medical reasons may be less able to do so in states where abortion is restricted. However, there is currently a lack of data exploring how inequities in abortion access affect people with high-risk pregnancies in restrictive areas. Using qualitative semi-structured interviews with people with high-risk pregnancies attempting to access an abortion in Georgia, we aim to address research gaps by examining current barriers and the potential impact of additional restrictions on this population’s access to care and health outcomes. Through this study, we also aim to understand particular barriers that people already facing a greater risk of maternal morbidity and mortality based on systemic inequities (i.e. insurance status, race/ethnicity, location of residence) experience. Given current widespread bipartisan efforts by state legislators to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality in Georgia, we feel that battling abortion restrictions through this lens could play a powerful role in the state. We hope that, by generating evidence illuminating the impact of abortion restrictions on people with high-risk pregnancies and the interplay with poor maternal outcomes, we can more effectively push for policy change and protect abortion access in our state.