As many women and families know, their economic stability largely depends on being able to make decisions about when and whether to take on the significant costs of raising a child. Access to reproductive health care allows a woman and her family to decide to delay having a child until they are best able. As studies have confirmed [PDF], delaying starting a family or having another child can also allow a woman to continue her education or career, increase her earning power, and attain better economic stability before having a child.
A new survey released by the National Institute for Reproductive Health confirmed what individuals and families making these decisions already know: the majority of voters link a woman’s control over her reproductive health decisions with her financial stability. The survey, which examined Virginian’s views on a number of issues affecting women and families, also found that 68% agree that “laws that make it harder to access abortion can have a negative impact on a woman’s financial stability” and two-thirds of voters support legislation that would protect a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion care.
The results of this survey are in line with responses from a previous survey of New York and Pennsylvania voters on the same topics. Overall, the surveys found that voters oppose “the legislative trend toward restricting abortion access.”
Politicians, Listen Up
The survey also found that 59% of voters were unaware of the current trend to curtail access to abortion. But when they were informed of recent anti-choice laws that have been passed, 63% said they opposed them.
For a low-income woman or family struggling to make ends meet, these laws significantly raise the cost of reproductive health services, blocking her ability to make these important decisions. For a woman in this situation, it is unlikely that she will be able to get insurance coverage to get an abortion because laws prohibit Medicaid coverage of abortion in all but a few limited circumstances. Further driving up the costs, she may have to travel hundreds of miles on multiple days to receive care due to clinic closures and waiting periods – likely having to take time off of work, find and pay for child-care (6 in 10 women getting an abortion already have children), and arrange and pay for transportation.
And this just isn’t a problem for women struggling to make ends meet. Half of the states even bar individuals from purchasing private health insurance plans in the health care marketplace that cover abortion. Many states have also enacted laws that require abortion providers to jump through unnecessary hoops, causing many clinics to close down, limiting access for everyone. All of these barriers to access drive up the cost of reproductive health care services and have a negative effect on the financial stability of women who seek care. In fact, more than half of the women who get abortions spend over one-third of their monthly income on the procedure.
Not only do voters agree that these laws are harmful to women and their economic health, the survey further revealed that 62% of voters said they would be less likely to vote for an elected official who favors more restrictions on abortion.
The surveys confirm that the public understands the importance of a woman’s control over her reproductive health decisions to her and her family’s economic health. It’s time for legislators to take notice and support policies that reflect this understanding.