The issues of abortion and access to free or inexpensive birth control are inextricably linked. Numerous legal experts and constitutional scholars have noted that the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision (on which Roe is based) affirming the right of married couples to purchase and use methods of contraception is now apparently forfeit as well, suggesting that multiple states’ efforts to restrict birth control methods they “disapprove” of will very soon be forthcoming. Since both decisions were decided under the (now apparently repudiated) assumption that a right of privacy exists within the parameters and intent of the Constitution, this analysis is almost certainly correct: The same misogynistic rationale that drives the religious right to control others’ bodies by criminalizing abortion is equally applicable to limiting peoples’ birth control choices.
Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court’s leaked decision on Roe v. Wadeand what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
So we can reasonably assume that those states with the most draconian anti-abortion laws will be among the first to restrict birth control as well, forcing thousands of people to give birth after having denied them the means to prevent getting pregnant in the first place. For example, of the 10 states with the highest teen pregnancy rates in the US, seven (Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas) also have “trigger laws” in place that will ban all abortions as soon as Roe is overruled. Significantly, all seven of these states form a contiguous land mass covering a vast swath of the south and lower Midwest. All other factors being equal, we can safely expect teen pregnancies to skyrocket in those states as many pregnant teenagers will have neither the means nor wherewithal to travel the distances necessary to obtain an abortion, even if their states deign to allow such travel.
Similarly, approximately 20 million people in this country live in what are called “contraceptive deserts,” defined as those areas lacking “reasonable access in their county to a health center that offers the full range of contraceptive methods.” Hundreds of thousands of those women and other people who could potentially become pregnant also live in states that will (after Roe is reversed in June or July of this year) either severely restrict or outlaw abortions completely.
As reported in 2019 by Alia Dastagir for USA Today:
In Alabama, which passed a near-total abortion ban in May, more than 300,000 women need publicly funded contraception but live in contraceptive deserts, according to Power to Decide. In Missouri, which could become the only state without an abortion facility, that number is nearly 400,000. In Ohio, lack of access affects more than 700,000 women, and in Georgia, nearly 650,000 women are affected.
Missouri has already introduced legislation criminalizing any attempt by someone in another state to assist a Missouri resident in obtaining an abortion. We can expect other Republican states to pass similar laws, although their constitutionality is as yet untested. By now many of us have already seen the visceral MeidasTouch ad depicting a mother and her daughter being stopped at the border and arrested for trying to obtain an abortion for the daughter. That ad, which was actually produced in 2020 as a warning of what was coming, is now an accurate depiction of the situation that will likely exist in a few short months.
But wholly separate from the terrifying scenario depicted in this ad, there are a panoply of economic consequences that flow from the wholesale criminalization of abortion. The most immediate consequences, of course, are to those forced to bear children against their will.
As reported by Katia Dmitrieva and Olivia Rockeman for Bloomberg, many of those are people who are either uninsured or too poor to obtain birth control through means other than public services. They are simply unable to afford travel to another state to obtain either birth control or abortion care.
“It’s just hard to overstate how far-reaching the effects are likely to be,” said Jason Lindo, a professor of economics at Texas A&M University in College Station. “The evidence is very clear that this is going to lead to negative outcomes on things like women’s educational attainment, women’s labor force participation and measures of economic success.”
According to the comprehensive Turnaway study, which compared the long-term impacts of unwanted pregnancy upon people either permitted or denied the procedure (cited by Dmitrieva and Brockeman for their article), about half of those people seeking to terminate a pregnancy live below the federal poverty line, “with three-quarters struggling to pay for basics like food and housing.” The study showed that pregnant people who were denied the right to terminate their pregnancies (because they were past the facility’s gestational age limit), were four times as likely within five years to live below the federal poverty line as those who received the procedure. They were also three times as likely to be unemployed after 10 years. Another study showed that women denied abortions were far more likely to file bankruptcy or be evicted later in their lives. Nearly all relevant studies confirm that an outsize number of those who seek abortion care or affordable contraception are economically disadvantaged, and disproportionately Black or Hispanic.
As reported by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez for Fortunethe cumulative economic impact of just the abortion restrictions that exist right now is staggering, and the full reversal of Roe will make that impact far worse:
[W]hile anti-abortion advocates and politicians have cheered the decision, if the draft is finalized, states that subsequently ban or heavily restrict abortions will negatively impact their own economies, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank that advocates for women from diverse backgrounds. The organization released a study in May 2021 estimating that current state-level abortion restrictions cost the US about $ 105 billion annually due to reduced earning levels, increased job turnover, and time off for women between 15 and 44 years old. Now, if Roe is overturned, that cost will get much higher, something that people don’t often think about in abortion discussions, Nicole Mason, CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told Fortune.
According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, about 26 states will likely ultimately ban abortion outright after Roe is overruled. That means the economic impact will be staggering — not simply toward those denied abortions, but to the economies and tax bases of those states that will also be hit with the costs and expenses of reduced labor force participation. Demand for social services will naturally increase as the effects ripple through each state’s economy. And this doesn’t begin to take into account the long-term harmful impacts to a generation of children raised by people who cannot adequately care for them (either emotionally or economically); the enormous medical expenses that will be incurred in tending to the injuries to pregnant people due to botched, now-illegal abortions; or the costs of incarcerating and prosecuting women that will inevitably proceed from these laws.
As Kylie Cheung, writing for Damenote:
In the same way lack of abortion access costs lives — thousands each year — it also costs money. It costs women, mothers, and children economic security; it costs state governments exorbitant amounts in legal fees; it costs the labor force talent and unsaid potential; and both now and in the future, it could cost unsaid amounts to monitor, prosecute, and jail women who violate laws that criminalize abortion.
And guess who these states will end up running to when they realize their tax base really can’t cope with this grand theocratic experiment? That’s right, the states that continue to allow abortion (mostly the “blue states”) will eventually be bailing out the ones that imposed this on their own citizens through their outsize share of federal tax dollars. Just like they do right now.
None of this is likely to matter to the people actually responsible for this assault on women and those who become pregnant. From their tax-free perches in their insular white communities, it’s very easy (and profitable) for the leaders of so-called “Christian” churches to push cruel and punitive anti-choice legislation by stoking their followers ’grievances and delusional world views. Here’s Brian Gunter, for example, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pollock, Louisiana, crowing about the looming repeal of Roe and praising a newly introduced bill in Louisiana that would classify all abortions as homicides in that state.
“No compromises,” the Rev. Brian Gunter, pastor of First Baptist Church in Livingston and a leading supporter of the bill, told lawmakers before they voted on Wednesday. “No more waiting.”
Like many white evangelicals, Gunter traffics in victimization, using his pulpit to stoke an imagined sense of constant persecution among his followers. Gunter is also the outreach director of Louisiana Right to Life, an anti-choice 501 (c) 3 organization which, presumably like his church, is exempt from federal income taxes. It’s people like Gunter — and the electoral power wielded by his followers — who drive Republican legislators to eagerly pass law after draconian law to mollify these people’s urge to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the country. And arrogant, ideological fanatics like Samuel Alito stand ready to leap at the opportunity to inflict those laws on people they consider undeserving.
Because both Gunter in his snug little Louisiana church and Alito behind his fortress of marble pillar share something in common: Neither will ever have to deal with the consequences of their actions.