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Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department supports women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

Sexual and reproductive health services are public health. Washington state recognizes all people have the right to choose to have an abortion. At Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, we agree with the American Public Health Association, which says, “the ability to safely and legally terminate a pregnancy is both an individual constitutional right and a public health concern.”

“The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade harms women and public health as a whole,” said Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Director of Health. “Health is the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. At the same time, we know that every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different. What may be the happiest event in one’s life may cause a tragic medical, emotional, or social outcome for another. When we understand those concepts, we understand that we have to provide the full range of options so each woman can achieve her highest attainable standard of health.”

Data and evidence support this. Mothers, infants and children in states with the most restrictive abortion laws have the worst health outcomes. Those states rank highest in infant mortality, preventable deaths, and children without age appropriate medical care. In addition, harmful social, environmental and economic impacts occur for women forced to keep unwanted pregnancies.

Maternal and child health is fundamental for the Health Department’s vision for healthy people in healthy communities. Without the full range of options, including abortion, women can no longer plan their lives in a way that will give them the best health outcomes.

This decision will disproportionally affect Black and brown women, who already experience discrimination and lack of proper healthcare. Forcing them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term means they’ll see the biggest consequences of this ban. Black women in the U.S. are 3 times more likely to die in pregnancy or postpartum than white women. This number will undoubtedly increase if more Black women are forced to carry a baby to term.

Some of the risks women face if they are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy or one that is dangerous to their health include:

  • Depression.
  • Poor birth outcomes.
  • Violence.
  • Psychological distress.
  • Living in poverty.
  • Lack of financial support like housing and nutrition.
  • Raising their children alone.

Abortion remains legal in Pierce County and Washington state, but today’s decision could put that at risk. We want to make sure everyone has access to the free resources Washington has to offer.

If you’re enrolled in an Apple Health (Medicaid) managed organization, you have these options:

Find more resources about Black maternal health and how Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department supports Black moms and their babies.

A ban on abortion is a ban on human rights. Our job is to keep everyone in Pierce County safe and healthy.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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