How Abortion Bans Contribute to the Cycle of Poverty
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the federally protected right to an abortion and allowing individual states to regulate its legality. The reversal of this nearly 50-year-old right will severely limit abortion access for millions of pregnant people across the country. More than half of states are poised to enact abortion bans, including 13 that had trigger laws in place designed to take effect if Roe was overturned. In these states alone, 36 million women are at risk of losing their reproductive rights.
States that already outlaw abortion - or soon will - are noted for having the weakest social services in the country, making them the least supportive of mothers and children.
ABORTION BANS HAVE DEVASTING CONSEQUENCES
The end of Roe v. Wade will intensify the cycle of intergenerational poverty and directly impact Comic Relief’s efforts to end it. Without access to safe, legal abortions, women from underserved communities – already facing systemic inequalities – will be disproportionately affected. Denying abortions can lead to a series of life-changing events that keep or push women into poverty. Abortion bans cause long-term financial instability; they make it harder to get an education, put womens' health at risk, and expose more children to a life of poverty.
ABORTION BANS MAKE IT HARDER FOR WOMEN TO RECEIVE AN EDUCATION
Limiting reproductive rights affects every aspect of a woman’s life. Raising children requires money and time, resources that are already limited for women living in poverty. For these women, the reversal of Roe v. Wade will decrease the time they can spend getting an education or maintaining a job. When women have access to safe and legal abortions, they are more likely to complete an advanced degree and increase their chance of getting a higher-paying job. More pay means more nutritious food, access to healthcare, and better housing. When a mother achieves economic security, she can provide resources and opportunities for her children, breaking generational cycles.
ABORTION BANS PUT MORE CHILDREN INTO POVERTY
Forced birth doesn’t just affect women; the negative economic impact on women carries over to children - further deepening intergenerational poverty. Children living in poverty often experience the same inequalities as their parents, are less likely to reach upward economic mobility, and are more likely to struggle in school or drop out.
Moreover, denying abortion negatively impacts children's developmental milestones and financial well-being. Children born as a result of forced birth are more likely to live below the poverty line. There's also an increased likelihood of maternal attachment and bonding issues that can worsen mental health for both the mother and the child. More than half of women seeking abortion already have children. These existing children experience lower childhood development scores when their mothers are denied an abortion than the children of women who were able to receive one.
ABORTION BANS PUT WOMENS’ HEALTH AT RISK
Making abortion illegal does not prevent abortions. It forces countless pregnant people into unsafe situations, making them more likely to die from self-induced abortion attempts. A long-standing report issued by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 1976 stated that abortion needed to be widely accessible because "any actions which impede a pregnant person’s access to legal abortion may increase their risk of death."
Women denied an abortion experience more life-threatening complications during pregnancy, such as hemorrhaging, pregnancy-induced hypertension, embolism, infection, and other chronic medical conditions. Fatal pregnancy complications are particularly prevalent for Black women, who are three times more likely to die during pregnancy than non-Black women – a grave statistic driven by healthcare inequality, including medical racism, geography, and socioeconomic status.
In many areas of the country, access to dedicated maternity wards, OB-GYNs, and other specialized medical professionals is scarce, making it much harder for women to access timely prenatal care and find a quality facility to deliver their child. Additionally, while Medicaid expansion seeks to increase reproductive health services, too many women still don't have access to necessary reproductive health care due to various restrictions and funding shortfalls.
ABORTION BANS DEEPEN INTERGENERATIONAL POVERTY
Making abortion illegal is a step backward in our fight to end intergenerational poverty. The reversal of Roe v. Wade will drastically impact under-resourced communities, exacerbating social and economic issues. When women living in poverty are forced to give birth, their struggles – unequal access to education, employment, and healthcare – are increased. In turn, these circumstances’ adverse effects are passed along to their children driving higher school dropout rates, unemployment or lower-paying jobs, and increased physical and mental health issues – reinforcing the cycle of poverty instead of breaking it.