Overthrowing Roe would destroy women’s health, education and economic progress
The world shook last week when Politico publishes draft opinion suggesting that Roe v. Wade would soon be canceled. Ever since President Trump installed three new Supreme Court justices on the bench, court watchers have thought the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy were in jeopardy. Now we can see a world where the protection of this right is no longer guaranteed.
Ohio’s legislative leaders have been particularly hostile to abortion rights, impose restrictions such as mandatory waiting periods, insurance restrictions, mandatory ultrasounds, a 20-week ban, limiting the reasons a person can seek an abortion, and unnecessary physical restrictions aimed at reducing access to safe abortion and legal. A lawmaker in Ohio even filed a bill that would allow any Ohio resident to act as a “paid bounty hunter,” receiving a $10,000 bond for tracking down and prosecuting abortion doctors.
Access to abortion is important because of fundamental rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. It is also important because of the measurable impact it has on women’s lives. A brief to the Supreme Court last year signed by 154 economists details the evidence of these impacts.
The legalization of abortion provides access to an important form of contraception. A fundamental study used legalization and pre-Roe trends before and after the Roe v Wade decision to study Roe’s impact on birth. He estimated that a full national recriminalization of abortion would lead to 440,000 new unwanted pregnancies a year, although the impact would be blunted if some states kept the procedure legal.
The legalization of abortion was crucial for young women and black women. Even controlling for cultural trends, legalizing abortion and ensuring no parental consent reduced teenage motherhood by 34% and teenage motherhood by 20%. Black women have experienced a 28-40% reduction in maternal mortality due to the legalization of abortion with greater access to quality abortion care.
Legalizing abortion has improved women’s educational outcomes. Black woman high school diploma and attended college at 22-27% higher rates due to the legalization of abortion. Abortion has allowed more women to enter the workforce, hold more jobs and earn more, especially black women.
The legalization of abortion is important in the face of the lack of access to reliable and universally available contraceptives. Contraceptives are expensive and often insufficiently effective. Often, abortion is the last resort option for contraceptive care when all others fail.
The absence of a parental leave policy gives women little chance to care for themselves and their families in the event of pregnancy. Parental leave is barely provided throughout Ohio, especially for low-income women who are less likely to have access to other forms of contraception in the first place.
The legalization of abortion is particularly essential for women in difficult economic situations. One in two women who request an abortion live in poverty and three out of four have low incomes. More than half already have children and more than half face disruptive events such as death of a close friend or family member, loss of a job, end of a relationship with a partner or increased rent or mortgage payments.
The legalization of abortion is important for access. Making abortion illegal will make it harder for women to get the care they need, with only the wealthiest women having the means to travel to get an abortion.
We don’t know exactly what will happen if Roe v. Wade is canceled. But we have a pretty good idea of what happened after it was put in place. If many members of the legislature get their way and make abortion illegal in the state, women in Ohio will be worse off.
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