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Georgia Nurse Warns Abortion Bans May Worsen the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis
Personal Story

Georgia Nurse Warns Abortion Bans May Worsen the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis

A women’s health nurse in Atlanta details how abortion bans could affect education for future nurses and Black maternal mortality rates.

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Any injustices and inequities in health care tend to fall hardest on communities of color. As a nurse practitioner and educator, Shawana Moore has seen and experienced how abortion bans create even more barriers for Black and brown women to receive the care they need. In a world where the difference between receiving and not receiving abortion care can alter someone’s life path, it is imperative that women of color are centered and uplifted in the provision of care. Further, abortion bans have the potential to affect provider training, which means that the future provider workforce may be ill-equipped to provide high-quality care to these communities, further worsening disparities in health outcomes.

Shawana Moore smiles for a selfie, wearing a red patterned shirt

Shawana Moore is pictured in November 2022. (Photo credit: Shawana Moore)

Shawana Moore is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner and is training the next generation of advanced registered nurse practitioners as an assistant professor at Emory University in Georgia. When the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was released, students and faculty expressed uncertainty about the future of education and training in states that have restricted access to abortion, such as Georgia. Students may have increasingly limited exposure to clinical training and hands-on experience in evidence-based, comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care. Shawana said she thinks these limitations in clinical training could have the potential to gravely affect a student’s training and readiness to deliver care to their future patients.

Through her volunteer work at a practice site in Georgia, Shawana is often the first point of contact for patients seeking an abortion. She said the Black maternal mortality crisis hits close to home and motivates her to provide Black and brown women with dignity and respect in their health care experience. The evolving landscape of abortion restrictions adds yet another barrier for Black and brown patients seeking care. Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade and Georgia’s six-week ban on abortion care, Shawana recalls a lot of tearful conversations with patients around the uncertainty of care. While the center where she volunteers can provide funding for patients to travel out of state to access care, for the people already facing structural and systemic inequalities, traveling for a procedure becomes impossible. Like in any area of health care, Black and brown communities are further marginalized when restrictions and bans are enacted. As a Black woman who has experienced firsthand the inequities of the health care system, Shawana said instilling a new standard for the generations to come is an important goal for her.

As an educator and a director of an advanced practice registered nurse program, it's important for me to ensure my students have the most current, up-to-date information regarding how to properly care for diverse populations of people across the lifespan, regardless of what the political landscape may be. ... It’s my duty as an educator. Shawana Moore

As Shawana’s story illustrates, abortion bans have resounding effects, and these bans’ insidious nature can influence every aspect of the health care system—and exacerbate inequities in care. It is imperative that policy solutions consider and address the potential effects on the health care workforce for training and longevity.

Read more health care professionals' stories on caring for patients without the constitutional right to abortion

Doctors, doulas, and nurse practitioners detail their experiences since the overturn of Roe v. Wade and their fears in the rapidly evolving legal landscape of abortion care.

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