Women Denied Abortion Access More Likely To Drop Into Poverty

A Global Turnaway Study was launched this year at the University of California, San Francisco, by researchers aiming to examine the impact on a woman’s socioeconomic status after she is denied a legal abortion. This important study is the first of its kind and produced significant and meaningful results: Compared with women who successfully obtain abortions, women who are unable to obtain legal abortions are three times more likely to drop below the poverty line within the following two years.

By following the experiences of women who were unable to obtain legal abortions, the study found that although a woman’s socioeconomic status may not have been exceptional before,

A year later, [the women who were denied an abortion] were far more likely to be on public assistance — 76 percent of the turnaways were on the dole, as opposed to 44 percent of those who got abortions. 67 percent of the turnaways were below the poverty line (vs. 56 percent of the women who got abortions), and only 48 percent had a full time job (vs. 58 percent of the women who got abortions).

The researchers also noted that denying women abortions unduly taxes federal aid programs:

“Another conclusion we could draw is that denying women abortions places more burden on the state because of these new mothers’ increased reliance on public assistance programs.”

Unlike the conservative rhetoric we so often hear about this topic, the study also found no statistical link between abortion and either drug use or clinical depression. Researchers actually noted that allowing women access to legal abortions was extremely important:

“One week after seeking abortion, 97 percent of women who obtained an abortion felt that abortion was the right decision; 65 percent of turnaways still wished they had been able to obtain an abortion.”

Although the study is the first of its kind, the results are hardly surprising. Conservatives, of course, wish to end all legal abortions, but also often seek to end public assistance programs. What conservatives now need to understand is that women often seek abortions because they cannot afford to have child and denying access to legal abortions worsens the socioeconomic status of the individual, as well as further burdens the government.