Opinion: Without Reproductive Freedom, Women Lose True Financial Freedom
A shocking and unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court decision is highlighting a stark and terrifying reality of American life: Roe v. Wade seems likely to be overturned and women stand to lose their freedom in many ways.
The Court’s decision to disregard precedent and long-standing rulings has widespread implications for reproductive justice and health care nationwide. Anti-choice legislators in many states have already put in place “trigger” laws set to severely restrict or completely ban abortions in certain states should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Allowing such an extreme overturn of rights to take effect will have widespread economic implications for people who get pregnant and their families. One national study found that a majority of those who sought abortions did so because they couldn’t afford to support a child. Five years later, those who were denied abortion access were four times more likely to earn incomes below the poverty line than those who were able to end their pregnancies. They were also less likely to be employed and more likely to need public assistance. When people are denied the ability to decide if and when to have children, low-income families suffer most.
On top of these concerns, financial earning power and, quite simply, the ability to make financial decisions without fear of pregnancy, is affected by this move.
A 2020 study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that, since Roe v. Wade went into effect, women have experienced higher educational attainment rates, increased entry into the workforce, and economic outcomes. Per the study, “Deciding whether and when to have a child is central to a woman’s economic well-being.”
It’s very tempting to feel insulated from anti-choice extremism because California law protects reproductive freedom and privacy. Yet even here, abortion access is limited–only 40% of California counties have an abortion provider, and many people cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for their reproductive health care. We, too, must be vigilant about unprecedented backdoor attacks on abortion rights and expand access to affordable care.
Anti-poverty organizations like mine have seen firsthand how low-income women have been disproportionately driven out of the workforce by layoffs and forced to make tough choices between child-rearing and employment. Families are already struggling to make ends meet, forced to bear the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. Limiting abortion access and reproductive health care will only hurt their financial well-being even more.
Unless we step up with additional financial support for working families, people will struggle to afford life’s basic needs including food, housing, and health care through no fault of their own. No matter where they live, people deserve options and the ability to make the right decisions for themselves. That means making sure people have access to abortions, health care, and cash.
by GSO President Amy Everitt
Amy Everitt serves as the president of Golden State Opportunity, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to ending poverty by providing all Californians with the tools to build financial well-being and thrive. She also served as Vice-President of Special Projects at NARAL Pro-Choice America and the State Director for NARAL Pro-Choice California for nearly two decades.