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Olivia Bruyn, MPH(c)
Learning and Community Impact Intern

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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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Vivian Figueredo, MPA
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

Derrick M. Gordon, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Georgia Kioukis, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Nicholas Mathews, MSEd
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Samantha Matlin, PhD
Senior Learning & Community Impact Consultant

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Caitlin O'Brien, MPH
Director of Learning & Community Impact

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Joe Pyle, MA
President

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Nadia Ward, MEd, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Access to abortion care is a mental health issue.

Jul 11, 2022

As a behavioral health foundation, we are gravely concerned about the mental health impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The overturning of the 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade, stripping women and birthing people of their constitutional right to bodily autonomy, is harmful. This will undoubtedly jeopardize the mental wellness of individuals, lead to increased rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, and disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and people of color, people with disabilities, undocumented people, and people who are low-income. 

The landmark Turnaway Study documents the many  impacts of being denied a wanted abortion. In the short term, individuals who are denied abortion care report higher levels of anxiety, lower life satisfaction, and lower self esteem than those who receive an abortion. Birthing people who were denied access to abortion care also faced more significant physical health risks, were four times as likely to live below the Federal Poverty Line, and were at greater risk of experiencing intimate partner violence. Their children are more likely to grow up in poverty and experience poor bonding with their mothers. 

While the decision does not outlaw abortions nationwide (abortion is still legal in the state of Pennsylvania; see the current status of abortion rights in your state), birthing people in states that restrict abortion will face significant barriers to accessing care. Even if those individuals are able to obtain an abortion out of state, research shows that facing barriers to abortion care is associated with higher levels of emotional distress. Those who will face the most barriers are those with the fewest resources.

The research is clear. This decision will cause significant mental health harm. At the Scattergood Foundation, we believe that we must recognize the basic dignity in every human. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson stands in direct contrast to that core value.

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