As several states pass laws restricting access to abortion, many statistics are being batted around as part of the debate. In an opinion piece published in Milbank Quarterly, a leading health policy journal, Paula Lantz, associate dean for academic affairs, professor of public policy, and James B. Hudak Professor of Health Policy, argues in "State Laws Restricting Abortion: The Need to Document Their Impact" that “it is in society’s best interest for experts to convene and reach consensus on the best methods for producing nonbiased, valid estimates of the death and severe morbidity toll from restrictive abortion policies in the United States.”
Calling out a recent fact checking piece from The Washington Post that questioned a claim made by Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen that “thousands of women died each year” before the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, Lantz points out that the column “myopically focuses on the past” but that the more important question is “how many women will die or experience devastating health and social welfare outcomes because of a new policy regime that makes most abortions illegal and severely restricts its access?”.
She urges public health experts to agree upon and implement a scientific method quickly to ensure that good data is available to inform policymakers decisions. Above everything, Lantz reminds readers “The numbers represent real people, are important regardless of ideology, and deserve to be known, believed, and respected.”
Read the full piece on Milbank Quarterly.
Paula Lantz is the associate dean for academic affairs and the James B. Hudak Professor of Health Policy at the Ford School. She also holds an appointment as professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health. Lantz, a social demographer, studies the role of public policy in improving population health and reducing social disparities in health.