Limiting Abortion Access Hurts Some Women More Than Others


A recent study revealed that the greatest challenge for women who are denied abortions is not the psychological or emotional distress, but the economic burden of supporting a child. 

On June 12, New York Times magazine published the results of a study administered by Diana Greene Foster, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Foster sought out to determine  "what ... were the consequences of having to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term? Did it take a higher psychological or economic toll than having an abortion? Or was the reverse true — did the new baby make up for any social or financial difficulties?"

Most women are turned away from abortion clinics and forced to give birth because of inadequate finances (health care plans that do no cover abortions), or the fact that many women try to abort the fetus too late in the term. According to an article in Jezebel, "travel and procedure costs, insurance problems and not knowing where to find care" are common causes for arriving at abortion clinics too late. 

The results revealed that the psychological outcomes for women who received and were denied abortions were not significantly different. In other words, "women who carried to term were not less anxious or depressed than women who got abortions." 

After giving birth, most women found themselves bonding with their babies and forming close, emotional connections. Most mothers found the newborns became sources of comfort and happiness.

According to an article in Jezebel, women denied abortion, called "turnaways," "experienced more devastatingly negative outcomes in their physical health and economic stability, particularly the latter."

While it is no surprise that supporting a child is expensive, many women found the cost to be even more significant than expected and even financially draining in some cases. From health expenses to food and clothing and education. In addition to the additional expenses of caring for a child, many women were unable to continue balancing holding a job with the new responsibility of caring for a child. The result, according to Foster's study, was that "women denied abortion were three times as likely to end up below the federal poverty line two years later."

Given the current, polemical political climate debating over women's reproductive rights, Foster's study adds some difficult questions on the table that must be considered. Shortly, lawmakers and politicians will be forced to make important decisions about reproductive rights, and those decisions will have far-reaching implications not just for women, but for society as a whole. 

Since the new mothers experienced serious economic struggles, it is interesting to consider the costs that new babies add to a society that is already struggling economically. As the New York Times argues, the study also begs the question, "Is abortion a social good?" Foster's study suggests that it is. 

We must consider the abortion debate from an economic standpoint. It is not productive to label women who get pregnant without the financial means to support a child as "irresponsible" or "reckless." These are human lives at stake, and Foster's study reveals that without access to abortion, many children will be brought into the world to live below adequate means.