A new report released last month by the Reproductive Health Technologies Project clearly outlines an obvious connection too often ignored in the politically-charged discourse surrounding access to comprehensive reproductive health care: abortion access is an economic issue. The report opens with this obvious — but sidelined — reality: “There is likely no decision that has a greater economic impact on a woman’s life than having—or not having—a child.”
While policy agendas geared toward promoting women’s economic security are gaining traction in progressive discourse, access to reproductive health care, including abortion and birth control, is conspicuously but consistently missing from this list of proactive agenda items. Though these other economic equality issues — equal pay, minimum wage, affordable child care, pregnancy accommodations, and paid family and sick leave — are absolutely critical, access to comprehensive reproductive health services is as fundamental to advancing women’s economic security. And polling shows that people understand that access to abortion should be part this conversation.
The report’s findings illustrate the inextricable link between abortion access and economic security:
Most women who seek abortion are already struggling financially.
The most commonly cited reasons for seeking an abortion are financial concerns.
Many women cannot afford the cost of an abortion.
Women often make great sacrifices to obtain the money needed for an abortion.
Economic barriers delay abortion care.
Later abortion poses a higher financial burden.
Financial barriers can be a complete obstacle to abortion care for some women.
Women denied an abortion are more likely to be in poverty two years later.
Given that low-income women are more likely to seek abortion and are disproportionately affected by anti-abortion regulations that restrict access—coupled with the fact that approximately 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime and that the majority of women who have abortions are already mothers—it’s past time we integrate reproductive healthcare into comprehensive women’s economic security agendas. Ideologically-driven policies that shutter abortion clinics and slash family planning funding have left Texas women and families without the healthcare they need to thrive economically.