A recent study that looked at 1,000 women seeking abortions and tracked them over a period of eight years discovered a "profound" (if totally obvious) link between abortion access and women's wealth inequality. This week, policy group Progressive Congress and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are hosting an event with lawmakers to discuss how access to abortion can have huge economic benefits for women, and lack of access to abortion can find them living in extreme poverty all over the country.
The study, performed by the research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSRH) out of the University of California-San Francisco, found 1,000 women who sought abortions between 2008 and 2010, and divided them into three groups: those who were turned away because they were too late into their pregnancy to have legal abortions, those who sought abortions within two weeks of the gestational limitations, and those who sought abortions in their first trimester.
While most abortions in America are performed in the first trimester, 54 percent of the women in the study cited waiting longer into their pregnancies to have more dangerous and more complicated abortion procedures because they got stuck gathering funds to cover it. If they didn't gather funds in time to cover the significantly less-expensive first-trimester abortion, tack on the extra travel costs to get to a place where they could access a later-term abortion. More than half of the women in the study wound up having abortions that cost more than one-third of their monthly income.
Gut-wrenchingly, 40 percent of the of the women in the study were seeking abortions because they did not believe they could afford a baby in the first place. Two-thirds were already living below the poverty line. And, over the five-year period following the recruitment process in which the women were studied, the ones who were denied abortions were three times more likely to be living below the poverty line.
Apart from the punishing economic effects of denying women abortion access are the horrific consequences to their own mental health and self-care. According to ANSRH Project Director Rana E. Barar:
We also know that women who are unable to obtain an abortion are more likely to stay tethered to abusive partners. There are also early indications that women have reason to worry about the impact of an unintended birth on that child as well as on their existing children. Women do not cite concerns for their own health as frequently in their reasons for wanting to end a pregnancy.
Hopefully, this event is the tiniest step in the direction of acknowledging the clear and obvious links between abortion access and economic mobility.