Roe v. Wade was overturned in June of this year, leaving women, non-binary, and trans citizens without the federal right to abortion — and therefore putting the right to an abortion in states’ hands. One of the most insulting things about the decision — other than the fact that it’s deeply sexist, classist, and patriarchal — is that it’s backed by the idea that abortion hurts families.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth; in fact, it’s the opposite. Data and experts tell a different story, where abortion rights promote stronger families, healthier kids, and greater equity. Especially in our current uncertain times, taking away a person’s rights to choose what happens to their body and what happens to their family is bad for everyone: the mother, her family, and society at large.
To begin: it’s a misconception that unmarried teens are responsible for the majority of abortions. In fact, six in ten women who have abortions already have children — and half of those women have more than one kid. These are women who well understand the responsibility and resources that go into having a child, and who know what’s best for her and her family.
A full one out of three women who seek an abortion say that it’s so they can take better care of the children they already have.
“One of the main reasons people report wanting to have an abortion is so they can be a better parent to the kids they already have,” Ushma Upadhyay, a professor with Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, told The New York Times in 2021.
Half of women who choose to get an abortion are also below poverty level, according to the same report — and another 25 percent are very close to the poverty level.
What does that mean? It means that women are choosing not to bring a child into the world that they can’t afford to care for. And it often means that they’re choosing to give their existing children a better life. The average cost of raising a child to adulthood in the United States is almost a quarter-million dollars, and when an unplanned child enters the picture, it can hurt the future of everyone in the family.
This is backed up by science. Studies have shown that women who are denied abortions are four times more likely to live in poverty for years, along with the child that they had and their siblings.
“It’s very powerful to see that women’s decision-making is exactly right on,” lead author Diana Greene Foster, a professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a research group at the University of California, San Francisco, told ANSIRH in 2018. “The things they worry about coming through are exactly the things they experience when they’re denied an abortion and carry the pregnancy to term. They tell us they can’t afford a baby, and we find they become poorer.”
And yet another study found that when women can’t get abortion access, their children suffer the consequences in multiple ways. People without abortion access are more likely to have kids who miss developmental milestones and live in poverty. They also get less maternal bonding, an issue that has a number of consequences that last into adulthood.
How else does restricting abortion rights hurt families?
It forces women — and anyone with female reproductive organs — into a patriarchal system where they and their baby will have to fight for access to health care, child care, maternity leave, and other resources that are available in plenty of other comparable countries, but not here. In other words, the United States will be a place where you can be forced to have a child, but will receive little to no support from the same government once that child is born.
And let’s be honest: these abortion laws will not affect the most affluent and powerful, who will likely always be able to access safe abortions as long as they have money and influence. It certainly won’t affect the judges making this ruling. These laws will absolutely punish people in lower socioeconomic brackets, people in rural communities, and People of Color.
Losing abortion rights can bring on hell for parents and families who are faced with heartbreaking decisions regarding fetuses who are not viable, or who would suffer unimaginable pain if born. Not to mention women who are pregnant due to rape and sexual abuse, or women who have mental or physical health issues that may worsen with pregnancy or childbirth.
The vast, vast, vast majority of late-term abortions are had by parents who have discovered their much-loved unborn child won’t survive. In a world without abortion rights, we’ll see more cases like this one, where an 11-year-old rape survivor would have to give birth to her abuser’s child. Whose family is that good for?
Here’s the bottom line: parents know what’s best for their family.
Just like you know how to make the best financial decisions for your family.
Just how you know how to make the best educational decisions for your family.
Just how you know how to make the best health care decisions for your family.
Losing the right to choose means that the federal government doesn’t want you making decisions for your family. It’s insulting to women, to parents, and to families. And now is the time to fight.