How abortion bans can harm women at work

Roe vs. Wade is now undone, soon making abortion illegal in about half of the US states. If that happens, historical records tell us it will not only affect women personally, but also put their professional lives at risk.

That decision, a draft of which was leaked to Politico in May and released in its final form Friday, will affect a woman’s chance of working at all, what kind of job she takes, how much education she gets, how much money she makes. , and even the hopes and dreams she has for herself. In turn, her career influences almost every other aspect of her life, from her chance of living in poverty to her view of herself.

And taking away the ability to make that decision will negate the decades-long advancements women have made in the labor market, which has a cascade effect on women’s place in society.

As Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College, put it, “Having children is the most economically important decision most women make.”

We all know this because of decades of research into how abortion bans hurt women — research that Myers, along with more than 150 other economists, outlined in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi case responsible for reversing Roe v. Wade. In addition to long-term studies looking specifically at the outcomes of women who were unable to have an abortion versus those who did, there is even more robust data on the negative causal effects of having children on women in general. It’s also just common sense, according to Jason Lindo, an economics professor at Texas A&M University.

“Anyone who has had children or has seriously thought about having children knows that it is super expensive in terms of time and money,” Lindo said. “So, of course, restrictions that make it harder for people to time when they have children or limit the number of children they have will seriously affect their careers and their economic conditions.”

Even in the absence of a national ban, the government’s anti-abortion measures have been a huge burden on women and society as a whole. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that state-level restrictions have cost those economies $105 billion a year in reduced employment rates, lower earnings, increased revenue and leisure among first-class working-age women.

An abortion ban will not affect all women equally. Myers says that in regions of the country where abortion is banned and where travel distances will increase for women to have an abortion, about three-quarters of women who want to have an abortion will still do so. That means about a quarter of the women there — in Myers’ words, “the poorest, the most vulnerable, the most financially vulnerable women in a wide swath of the Deep South and Midwest” — won’t receive their health care.

As the US faces an ongoing labor shortage — one led in part by women who have left the workforce to care for children and the elderly during the pandemic — the expected Supreme Court decision will exacerbate the situation and potentially affect the experience. of women in the workforce change for years to come.

1) Female employment rate could fall

Access to abortion is an important factor that has increased the employment rate of women. Nationally, women’s employment rates went from about 40 percent before Roe v. Wade was adopted in 1973 to nearly 60 percent before the pandemic (men’s participation was nearly 70 percent then). Abortion bans could thwart or even reverse some of those benefits.

Using data from the Turnaway Study, groundbreaking research that compares outcomes over time for women across the country who have had or been refused an abortion, Professor Diana Greene Foster of the University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, and fellow researchers found that six months after they were denied an abortion, women were less likely to work full-time than those who had an abortion. That difference remained significant for four years after these women were denied abortions, a gap that could further affect their job prospects in the future.

2) Lower education level

Education rates are fundamental to career prospects and pay. A 1996 study by Joshua Angrist and William Evans looked at states that liberalized abortion laws before Roe v. Wade and found that access to abortion leads to higher educational rates and labor market outcomes. Kelly Jones, an economics professor at the University of America, used state abortion law data to determine that legal access to abortion for young women who became pregnant increased their educational attainment by nearly a year and increased their chances of completing college with about 20 percentage points. The evidence is largely driven by the impact on young black women.

Other research by Jones and Mayra Pineda-Torres found that simple exposure to targeted restrictions on abortion providers, or TRAP laws, reduced the likelihood of young black teens entering or finishing college. Primary education, in turn, influences which jobs women are qualified for.

3) The kind of jobs women get will be more limited

Having children has a major impact on the types of jobs women get, often leading them to part-time or lower-paying occupations. While broader abortion bans are now possible in any state that wants to enact one, many individual states have already enacted TRAP laws that make getting an abortion more difficult. This legislation has also provided a natural experiment for researchers such as Kate Bahn, chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit organization, who found that women in these states were less likely to move into higher-paying professions.

“We know a lot from previous research on the first expansion of birth control pills and abortion care in the 1970s that when women have a little more certainty about their family planning, they just make different choices,” Bahn told Recode.

This could lead to increased occupational segregation – the over-representation of women in certain areas such as health and education, for example – driving down wages in those areas, even when education, experience and location are taken into account.

4) All of the above has a negative effect on income

Reducing the jobs women get, taking time out of the workforce, getting less education – all of this hurts women’s wages, which are already lower on average than men’s.

An article by economist Ali Abboud, which looked at states where abortion was legal before Roe v. Wade, found that young women who had an abortion just to delay an unplanned pregnancy for a year was an 11 percent increase in the number of women who had an abortion. hourly wages compared to the average. Jones’s research found that legal access to abortion for pregnant young women increased their chances of being employed by 35 percentage points.

The IWPR estimates that if existing abortion restrictions were removed, women in the US would earn an average of $1,600 more per year. Loss of income affects not only women who have unwanted pregnancies, but also their families and their existing children. Income, in turn, influences the poverty rates of not only the women who have to go through an unwanted pregnancy, but also their existing children.

5) Lack of access to abortion limits women’s career aspirations

Perhaps most insidiously, the lack of access to abortion severely limits women’s hopes for their own careers. Building on her team’s research in the Turnaway Study, Foster found that women who were unable to obtain a desired abortion were significantly less likely to achieve one-year goals related to work than those who did, likely because those goals would be much more difficult to achieve. while caring for a newborn. They were also generally less likely to achieve one-year or five-year ambitious goals.

Limiting women’s autonomy over their reproductive rights amplifies women’s unequal status in ways that are both concrete and ephemeral, C. Nicole Mason, IWPR president and CEO, told Recode.

“That’s a very psychological, emotional, psychological feeling — to feel and understand that my equality, my rights, are less than my male counterparts,” she said. “The law makes it so. The Supreme Court makes it that way.”

Update, June 24, 5:30 PM: This story has been updated to reflect the Supreme Court decision.

This post How abortion bans can harm women at work

was original published at “”

Leave a Comment