The U.S. Supreme Court recently voted to overturn constitutional protections in place for nearly 50 years for those who choose to have an abortion. 13 states have enacted “trigger-laws'' to restrict or ban abortion outright following the Court’s reversal decision. It is expected that nearly half of the states will eventually ban all or most abortions.
Women who are denied abortion also have a higher chance of living in poverty up to four years after, are less likely to have full time employment, and are more likely to experience economic hardship, according to the Economic Policy Institute. At the time of abortion seeking— 51% of women were living below the federal poverty level and 76% reported not having enough money to cover housing, transportation, and food. This is particularly true for Hispanic and African American women, who have disproportionately higher rates of abortion than white women.
This decision impacts women across the nation, but especially impoverished women and women of color, a group that already struggles with access to quality reproductive care due to limited mobility and lower wages. The wage gap between White and Black women remains persistent, making Black women less able to withstand financial hardship and achieve economic stability for themselves and their families. According to a 2021 analysis by the American Association of University Women, Black women make about 80 cents for every dollar white women make. Another study from the American Economic Journal found that women who have children earn about 21% less than women who don’t have children. Without access to safe abortions, wage gaps along gender and racial lines will likely increase.
Abortion is protected in Minnesota’s state constitution. Minnesota also is one of 16 states where Medicaid covers the procedure beyond limited circumstances allowed by federal law, a policy designed to boost access for low-income women. However, with only 8 abortion clinics, a growing number of out of state patients will face decreased availability and longer waiting times for appointments.
The implications for the work of Community Action are clear: more women forced to take unwanted pregnancies to term resulting in greater economic hardships for affected families. While women living in Minnesota may be protected for now, further efforts to erode access to safe reproductive health services can be expected here and nationally. The economic pressures on women of color particularly will be exacerbated at a time when COVID, inflation and systemic racism already have taken a terrible toll.
Community Action Agencies and Minnesota Community Action Partnership will continue to advocate for policies that advance equities in healthcare.