Erosion of Roe v. Wade: A Public Health Economic Paradox
MarkThomas / Pixabay
Erosion of Roe v. Wade: A Public Health Economic Paradox

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court announced its verdict in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reversing Roe v. Wade and upending 50 years of precedent preserving a woman’s right to privacy in choosing to terminate a pregnancy before viability. The state legislation at issue in Dobbs was Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, and the Supreme Court found in a 6-3 decision that the Mississippi statute was constitutional, Roe and Casey were incorrectly determined and the provision was valid because it met rational-basis analysis.

Bracing for the Global Impact of Overturning Roe v. Wade

The right to an abortion is an economic one. The overturning of Roe will cause abortion seekers to lose their financial stability, freedom and mobility. The majority of the effects will be seen by low- and middle-income individuals, particularly Black and brown women. It is evident that the 1973 Roe ruling is causally tied to women’s advancements in social and economic life and that its repeal will have a major and harmful effect on women’s lives. The decision might have severe ramifications for pro-choice activists, those who support the right to an abortion and socio-legal movements focused on reproductive rights around the world, rather than just changing American culture, politics and the lives of American women. Banning abortion to reduce abortion is not the solution, but access to free contraceptives, paid family leave, ending housing insecurity, funding full/part of education and early comprehensive sex education make the difference and reflect the change.

The Turnaway Study, which followed women who had been denied an abortion, found that these women were more likely to experience household poverty, be unable to pay for necessities of life, have a poorer credit score, have more debt and run into issues like bankruptcy and eviction.

Lifting all state-level bans on abortion would boost the nation’s GDP by about 0.5 percent and save state economies an estimated $105 billion annually. That is primarily due to decreased labor force participation and wages if people don’t work or have lower education levels because they are caring for children, rising company turnover and taking more time off of work.

The impact on the economy also reflects the weakening of the legal and social essence of the federal core of American constitutionalism. This depicts how the values of American culture are constantly changing and shifting. Overturning the landmark case of Roe paves the way for state legislators to prove their accountability to uphold constitutional freedom and ensure social good and empowerment with access to reproductive rights and needs. The states now have complete freedom in deciding whether to grant abortion rights or not.

However, the expensive medical attention and facilities in the US make the option of abortion unreachable for economically poor women who need to spend money on travel costs, medical admissions and procedures. Research estimates that by overturning Roe, the number of legal abortions could decline by 14 percent. Furthermore, the present ruling is a catalyst of the political games of Congress, which have been defended by the Republicans for their vote base.

One instance depicting how the overturning of Roe impacts the nation is teen pregnancy. A reduction of nearly 34 percent in teen motherhood has been recorded, which could have otherwise caused a burden on the lives of teens, their families, their careers and the healthcare system as a whole. Additionally, such teenage pregnancies also impact the child mentally. Abortion of teen pregnancies reduces poverty, child abuse and neglect and dependence on state public policies.

CONCLUSION

Abortion is sometimes presented as a “culture war” issue, as opposed to a “bread and butter” economic problem. In truth, abortion rights and economic advancement are inextricably linked, and the inevitable loss of abortion rights implies that millions of women will lose economic security, freedom and mobility. This will be a further economic blow to women in the 26 states that are expected to restrict abortion, who are already facing an economic landscape of decreased salaries, worker power and access to health care. Some of the economic effects of being refused an abortion include a greater possibility of poverty even four years later, a reduced likelihood of full-time employment and an increase in unpaid debts and financial misery that lasts for years. This openly political Supreme Court ruling overlooks comprehensive data and empirical research, revealing the substantial economic ramifications of this judgment. It exposes the harsh and sexist politics that drive it.

 

Kosha Doshi and Naga Sumalika Rangisetti are law students at Symbiosis Law School in Pune, India.

 

Suggested citation: Kosha Doshi and Naga Sumalika Rangisetti, Erosion of Roe v. Wade: A Public Health Economic Paradox, JURIST – Student Commentary, July 2, 2022, https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2022/07/doshi-rangisetti-roe-public-health/.


This article was prepared for publication by Rebekah Yeager-Malkin, Deputy Commentary Editor. Please direct any questions or comments to she/her/hers at commentary@jurist.org


Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.