How air pollution and heat make pregnancy more dangerous

As the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn federal-level abortion protections, we explore the direct link between reproductive health and climate change.

On The Carbon Copy podcast this week:

In early May, a leaked draft opinion showed that the Supreme Court could soon overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. So what does abortion access have to do with climate change? This week, we explore the link between rising temperatures, pollution and reproductive justice.

In recent years, a robust and growing body of research shows that exposure to pollution and extreme heat increases the risk of stillbirth and preterm birth, particularly among Black parents. And restricted abortion access in a post-Roe America could further increase health risks and the potential for the criminalization of some pregnancy outcomes.

We spoke to one of the pioneering researchers in this field to understand the link between exposure to heat and pollution and adverse birth outcomes — and what can be done to address it. 


  • Alexandria Herr is a producer on our show. You can find her Atmos article on climate change and high-risk pregnancy here.

  • Eve Andrews is a staff writer at Grist. You can find her article, co-written with Naveena Sadasivam, on pregnancy in pollution hot spots here.

  • Rupa Basu is the chief of the air and climate epidemiology section at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The Carbon Copy is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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