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The economic impact of overturning Roe v. Wade

Earlier this year, the devastating overturning of Roe v. Wade took place. Roe v. Wade was a landmark piece of legislation that made access to an abortion a federal right in the United States of America. This is a devastating blow to reproductive justice and the freedom of women to choose.

According to Alicia Modestino, an associate professor of public policy, urban affairs, and economics, the Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe v. Wade could have devastating economic effects for women, particularly low-income women of colour (Mello-Klein, 2022). Luigi Pistaferri, a Stanford economist, says that this decision will lead to an increase in the percentage of single mothers, with low-income and minority women bearing the brunt of this increase.

Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to an abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, and now each state is free to adopt any abortion restrictions they see fit in the absence of Roe v. Wade. 22 states have already declared intentions to restrict or outlaw abortion in response to the Supreme Court's ruling. With the current economic climate, this may have a huge impact on women, families, and even states, according to Modestino.

Due to the numerous financial and practical barriers that prevent some women from getting an abortion, they may be forced to keep pregnancies for which they do not want or feel prepared for. Numerous research on the economic impacts of restricting access to abortions have been undertaken, and the majority of them point to one core outcome: more women will experience economic difficulty (Gittins, 2022).


What are these economic hardships facing women as a result of overturning Roe v. Wade?

According to Pistaferri, if we accept the premise that having access to abortion (as well as a wide range of birth control options) gives women stronger agency over reproductive decisions. Which in turn leads to greater workforce participation, investment in education, etc., it is evident that women who reside in jurisdictions that prohibit or severely restrict abortion would experience worse economic outcomes than those who reside in places where abortion is still permitted (De Witte, 2022).

According to research by Pistaferri's colleagues, the restrictions will cause fewer people to complete their education, which is linked to a lower rate of workforce participation, lower income, and limited career prospects — ultimately leading, most likely, to a rise in inequality. This burden will be felt by people looking to undergo an abortion, in which there are short-term expenses like travel and medical care, as well as long-term effects like lost wages, job loss, educational attainment, and bankruptcy more women will have to face (Mello-Klein, 2022)

1) Less opportunities

According to Janet Yellen (secretary of the Treasury), Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, helped contribute to higher workforce participation because it allowed many women to complete their education and increase their earning potential (Tappe, 2022). Women were able to organise and balance their families and jobs because of the right to an abortion. Hence, it is possible that more women, particularly minorities, will quit working or reduce their educational attainment because of unexpected pregnancies.

2) Getting a safe abortion will now be expensive and inaccessible

Tappe (2022) reported that economists are also worried that overall female health care will suffer as a result of restricting or prohibiting abortions. The American Psychological Association's president, Frank C. Worrell, Ph.D., expresses the concern that with the overturning of Roe, decades of research show that those who cannot have abortions are more likely to have higher levels of anxiety, less life satisfaction, and lower self-esteem than those who are able to obtain abortion (Campoamor, 2022).

For many women, clinics that offer family planning services are often also the local option for preventative care, including cancer screenings and pap tests. Having easy access to these clinics plays a crucial role in their health care. More than 20 states already have or are considering state-level bans on abortion, which will significantly reduce abortion access across the country. Many of these states are grouped together, especially in the south, meaning that for many women they will not be able to get the treatment in neighbouring states. Although many companies have stated that they will support women in receiving safe abolition, whether it’s through providing time off or through their health partners. The reality is many women will probably have to travel much further, passing through several states, taking time off work, and postponing other obligations. An investigation by NBC News found that women in those 20 states will have to drive an average of four hours to go to the closest abortion facility (Gittins, 2022).

Pistafferi elaborated that it is undoubtedly true that women who live in places where abortion is forbidden could get around the limitations by going to states where it is permitted, depending on abortion medications, or intensifying the use of anti-conception techniques. However, these options are pricey and/or necessitate knowledge of complex medical rules, which suggests that low-income women and people of colour will bear the brunt of abortion restrictions (and indeed, this was what researchers who studied the experience in the 1960s and 1970s had found).

3) Financial distress, bankruptcy, and poverty

An impartial brief was submitted to the court by more than 150 economists and academics with the goal of demonstrating the link between women's access to abortion and economic opportunity (Mello-Klein, 2022). Contrary to those who had an abortion, women who were unable to get one and had children saw an increase in household poverty that persisted for four longer years.

Based on new findings, women who were denied an abortion were more likely to encounter financial hardship later in life, mostly because they tended to have additional parental responsibilities without receiving an equivalent increase in support from the state or a male partner (De Witte, 2022). According to a 2020 University of Michigan study, women who had been denied an abortion had a 78% increase in their debt and an 81% increase in their chances of filing for bankruptcy and being evicted in the five years that followed (Gittins, 2022). Furthermore, their average credit score dropped, and being forced to bear an undesired pregnancy frequently caused major disruptions to professional goals.

If you or a family member, friend or partner are impacted by overturning of Roe vs Wade, please seek further resources and support using the below links:

  • Abortion Access Front - https://www.aafront.org

  • United States of Women - https://usow.org/repro/

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - https://www.aclu.org/

  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund - https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/

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