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What too many of the states banning abortions have in common

How many of the states banning abortion have also rejected Medicaid expansion and family leave policies? Too many.


Ordinarily, the most notable quotes from the Sunday shows come from the policymakers who appear as guests. But yesterday, it was a host, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, who made an important point while asking South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem about her state’s abortion ban. From the transcript:

“The non-partisan Commonwealth Fund, a social policy think tank, says the 14 states that have the most restrictive abortion laws, including South Dakota, invest the least in policies and programs for women and children. So what do you mean when you say these mothers will never be alone?”

The Republican governor, whose national ambitions are not a secret, said South Dakota would try to “coordinate” with churches and non-profit organizations — which would presumably be tasked with picking up the slack from the red state’s weak investments in family support — before Noem tried to change the subject to inflation.

It wasn’t much of an answer. Charities and houses of worship certainly deserve applause when they’re able to offer support to people in need, but it’s unrealistic to see well-intentioned volunteers and non-profits as the basis for a statewide safety net.

South Dakota wasted no time in ending reproductive rights the moment Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court gave the state the green light. Even women impregnated by rapists in South Dakota will either have to travel elsewhere — if they can afford it — or be forced by their home state to take the unwanted pregnancy to term.

But the Mount Rushmore State did not scramble to create new layers of support for families. South Dakota, for example, still hasn’t accepted Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, which includes coverage benefits related to pregnancies. It also isn’t one of the states with paid family leave.

Indeed, among the many striking aspects of recent developments is precisely these common threads tying the anti-abortion states together.

Alabama, for example, has also banned abortion. It also hasn’t accepted Medicaid expansion through the ACA or approved paid family leave policies. The same can be said about Mississippi — the state that produced the Dobbs case in the place — where a sweeping state abortion ban will soon take effect.

And let’s not forget Florida — a state with the nation’s third-highest abortion rate — where Gov. Ron DeSantis has already imposed abortion restrictions, and where the Republican governor now intends to go even further, despite the absence of Medicaid expansion and family leave policies.

When officials in these states make the case that they’re banning abortion because they’re “pro-family,” it’s worth keeping these related details in mind.