Roe v. Wade decision expected to financially hurt ‘marginalized’ women

Abortion rights activists raise their signs at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on June 24, 2022.

Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could cause financial hardship for many women, especially those already dealing with economic instability, research shows.

Friday’s ruling ends nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights. It allows individual states to enact their own laws, and nearly half of the states are expected to ban or severely restrict abortion as a result.

β€œIt sadly affects the most marginalized women β€” women of color and those who have no economic access to abortion,” said Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner, physician and founder of Life Planning Partners of Jacksonville, Florida.

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While wealthier women living in states with abortion bans can still travel to other states for the procedure, those with fewer resources may not have that option, said McClanahan, who also serves on CNBC’s advisory board.

Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College who began modeling the effects of Roe v. Wade’s destruction three years ago, emphasized that many of the worst-affected women already have children.

More than 150 other economists and researchers, including Myers, filed amicus brief with the courts demonstrating the link between women’s access to abortion and economic opportunity.

Access to abortion affects women’s finances

While the Supreme Court’s majority opinion briefly discusses how overthrowing Roe v. Wade could affect women’s lives, it concludes that the court cannot predict the impact, Myers said.

“That just ignores a tremendous amount of credible and rigorous scientific research,” she said, citing recent evidence from the Turnaway study, which followed nearly 1,000 women seeking abortions at 30 clinics across the US from 2008 to 2010.

These women’s finances showed the same trend “until that pivotal moment” when some who wanted abortions were turned down, she said. For those who were denied an abortion and who gave birth, the result was years of financial hardship, the study found.

Among those who refused an abortion, there was an increase in household poverty for at least four years compared to those who had an abortion. Years later, the women who refused an abortion were more likely to miss out on the money to cover basic living expenses, such as food, housing and transportation.

In addition, refusing an abortion lowered these women’s credit scores, increased their debts and increased negative financial data, such as bankruptcies and evictions, the study found.

While the right to abortion may remain legal in more than half of the states, “the impact would be absolutely huge” if it were banned nationwide, Myers said.

“This is a major setback for women’s rights, from both a health and economic standpoint,” McClanahan added.

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