Today is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date when the wages of women who work full time all year finally catch up to men’s wages. It’s a day to reflect on polices both good and bad that affect economic justice. At the National Women’s Law Center, we work on a range of issues that affect the economic stability of women and their families, including both equal pay and access to reproductive health care. So we thought it was appropriate to look at the overlap between equal pay and access to abortion. Here’s what we found:

  • Seven out of 10 of the states with the worst wage gap are extremely hostile to abortion, meaning they have six or more abortion restrictions.*
  • States that are hostile to abortion (have 4 or more abortion restrictions) have a worse wage gap than states that aren’t hostile. In states that are not hostile to abortion women, on average, make 20 cents less for every $1 a man makes. But, in hostile states women make 23 cents less for every $1 a man makes.  
  • Women would also have to work longer in hostile states before they catch up to men’s wages. In non-hostile states, it takes a woman an average of 89 days EXTRA just to earn what a man makes while it takes 108 EXTRA days in hostile states.

Put simply, economic security and reproductive justice go hand in hand. Women can’t have one without the other. Abortion restrictions, pay discrimination, unaffordable health care, lack of paid sick days, inaccessible childcare, unfair scheduling practices all make it harder for women to have the children they want, not have children, and parent their children they have in safe, healthy environments. Economic justice is deeply interconnected to all other forms of justice, including reproductive justice.

The policies that support pay equity are policies that support women. Politicians who support women are politicians who support reproductive justice. And, politicians who support policies that make it harder for women to achieve economic justice are likely going to be the same politicians who want to make it harder for women to obtain abortions. So, why are the states with the worst wage gaps more likely to be extremely hostile to abortion? Because states that are hostile to abortion are hostile to women.


*Thanks to the Guttmacher Institute for providing analysis on which states are hostile to abortion.

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