Let’s be clear: the attacks on abortion in states like Alabama and Missouri are direct attacks on our economic security. The ability to control if, when, and how to have children is at the core of women’s ability to provide a decent standard of living for themselves and their families. In fact, it is so central to our ability to achieve financial security, that it’s hard to know where to begin describing how and why that’s the case.
Or as Amy’s twelve-year-old would put it: Duh.
If we can’t decide if and when to have children, our ability to finish high school or college is undermined. Women’s level of educational attainment is highly correlated with earnings, so the decision of whether and when to have children affects lifetime economic stability and security.
What’s more, when we are denied autonomy over reproductive health decisions, our experience in the paid workforce is deeply impacted: Women working full time, year-round are already paid less than men working full time, year round in every state – with even worse disparities for women of color. Over a 40-year career, the wage gap will cost Black women $946,000 compared to white-non-Hispanic men. Native women typically lose $977,720 while Latinas lose more than $1.1 million. Women overall lose on average $406,760.
Mothers face an additional wage penalty, as moms working full time, year round outside the home make just 69 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. Asian/Pacific Islander mothers are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers; white, non-Hispanic mothers are paid 69 cents; Black mothers, 54 cents; Native mothers, 49 cents; and Latina mothers, 46 cents. This gap is likely due in no small part to the fact that women disproportionately bear caregiving responsibilities, and the supports women need to successfully meet both their work and family responsibilities – like paid family and medical leave, high-quality, affordable child care, predictable yet flexible schedules, and a living wage – are not widely available.
When women who want an abortion cannot get one, they and they children they already have suffer. The economic impact of the inability to access abortion care is especially stark when women end up raising children on their own: women-headed households face poverty rates that are double the rates for single fathers. We also know that close to sixty percent of women seeking abortion care already have a child — and that seventy-five percent are poor or low income. So it’s already clear who is most impacted by abortion bans: women who are already struggling to maintain a basic standard of living for themselves and their families. At the same time that they are pressing restrictions on abortion, the Trump administration and many states around the country are further undermining women’s economic security by forcing cuts in basic supports like food, shelter, and health care. Funny how these dots connect, making it impossible for women to provide for their families, isn’t it?
Reproductive justice is economic justice. It means that women and families have what they need to thrive – from deciding if and when to have children, to ensuring that women can have safe and healthy pregnancies, to making sure that families have access to supports ranging from high-quality, affordable child care to safe homes and neighborhoods to adequate nutrition to comprehensive health insurance (that covers all pregnancy-related care, including birth control, abortion, prenatal and postnatal care). When access to any of these core supports is threatened, both reproductive justice and economic opportunity are undermined.
We need to #StoptheBans if we want women and their families to have healthy, nutritious food on the table; access to high-quality early learning; a roof over their heads; and health care. For women, girls, and families to have economic security and opportunity, we need access to abortion.