State Abortion Bans Could Harm Nearly 15 Million Women of Color
By Katherine Gallagher Robbins and Shaina Goodman
The decision to become a parent is not only deeply personal, but it is also one of the most economically consequential choices of a person's life. Having a child has implications for one's education, earnings, and economic security – and being able to plan if and when to have a child is an essential aspect of planning for one's economic security and future.Frye, J. (2022, July 1). “The Overturning of ‘Roe’ Ignores Economic Realities for Pregnant people.” Fast Company. Retrieved 6 July 2022, from https://www.fastcompany.com/90765813/pov-the-overturning-of-roe-ignores-economic-realities-for-pregnant-people. Yet for millions of people in the United States, the ability to control their futures has been taken away from them.
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision means "26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion"Nash, E. & Cross, L. (2022, April 19). 26 States Are Certain or Likely to Ban Abortion Without Roe: Here’s Which Ones and Why. Retrieved 6 July 2022, from Guttmacher Institute website: https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/10/26-states-are-certain-or-likely-ban-abortion-without-roe-heres-which-ones-and-why. As of the publication data of this analysis, these states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In these states, there were pre-Roe bans, “trigger” bans, constitutional prohibitions, early-term abortion bans or other legislative attempts to ban abortion. See source for additional details. – and many already have. Important work by In Our Own Voice and Planned Parenthood shows half of women of reproductive age,While people of many ages can become pregnant, in this analysis we use ages 15-49 to align with the Guttmacher Institute (see Guttmacher Institute. (2020, July). Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Retrieved 29 June 2022, from Guttmacher Institute website: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/investing-sexual-and-reproductive-health-low-and-middle-income-countries), the World Health Organization (see World Health Organization. (n.d.). Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing Data Portal. Retrieved 29 June, 2022 from World Health Organization website: https://www.who.int/data/maternal-newborn-child-adolescent-ageing/indicator-explorer-new/mca/women-of-reproductive-age-(15-49-years)-population-(thousands), and others. including millions of women of color, live in these states.In Our Own Voice and Planned Parenthood. (2021, October 1). Red Alert: Abortion Access is at Stake for Nearly Half of U.S. Women and People Who Can Become Pregnant. Retrieved 27 June 2022, from Planned Parenthood website: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/8e/24/8e241a38-af52-4c89-b299-5a02c0453adf/210927-2021-red-alert-report-english-v4.pdf. Due to data limitations, the data in this paper only analyze people who identify as women, though people who do not identify as women may also become pregnant. New National Partnership for Women & Families analysis builds on this work to show that of the 36 million women of reproductive age who live in these states:
- 2.8 million are women with disabilities;People are identified as having a disability in this analysis if they responded that they have difficulty in one or more of the following realms: vision, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory, self care, and independent living. This is a limited definition of disability that excludes a portion of disabled people. For more information on how disability is measured in the American Community Survey please see, U.S. Census Bureau. (2021, November 2). How Disability Data are Collected from The American Community Survey. Retrieved 29 June 2022 from U.S. Census Bureau website: https://www.census.gov/topics/health/disability/guidance/data-collection-acs.html.
- 12.6 million are women who are economically insecure;While people across the income spectrum may have difficulty making ends meet, in this analysis we define “economically insecure” as living in a family below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
- 15.8 million are mothers with children under 18 at home;This analysis defines “mother” as having at least one own child (including step, adopted, or biological) under the age of 18 in the household. Due to data limitations, there are mothers who are not included in this definition, including those who have non-resident or older children or those whose children have passed away. and
- 389,600 are veterans.
We also build on In Our Own Voice and Planned Parenthood's research on communities of color, finding that 14.8 million reproductive-age women of color live in these 26 statesWhite, non-Hispanic women are also impacted by the Dobbs decision; more than 21.1 million white, non-Hispanic women of reproductive age live in states that have or are very likely to ban abortions – 51.3 percent of all white, non-Hispanic women ages 15-49. and providing state-by-state breakdowns for these women, who include:
While people from all communities are harmed by these abortion bans, we find that Black and Native American women are the most likely to live in these 26 states and are thus especially harmed by Dobbs. Women with disabilities, women veterans, and women who are economically insecure are also disproportionately likely to live in these states.
For people in these states who become pregnant, the stakes have just gotten dramatically higher. Economist Caitlin Knowles Myers estimates that in the first year after Dobbs 100,000 pregnant women will not be able to have the abortion they seek, resulting in 75,000 birthsKnowles Myers, C. [@Caitlin_K_Myers]. (2022, May 6). My most up-to-date projection, accounting for policy changes in the last month, is that about 100,000 women seeking abortions will [Tweet]. Retrieved 6 July 2022, from Twitter: https://twitter.com/Caitlin_K_Myers/status/1522540905881903104. that will dramatically impact their lives, plans, and economic security. For Black and brown people, giving birth presents its own set of dangers and concerns given their high rates of maternal mortality, especially in the states that also restrict abortion the most.National Partnership for Women & Families and In Our Own Voice. (2019, October). Maternal Health and Abortion Restrictions: How Lack of Access to Quality Care Is Harming Black Women. Retrieved 6 July 2022 from National Partnership for Women & Families website: https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/health-care/repro/maternal-health-and-abortion.pdf.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization is a decision that is about access to essential healthcare, but also much more than that. It is, at its core, a decision – deeply rooted in sexism and racismMhatre, N. (2019, April 25). Abortion Restrictions Hurt Women of Color. Retrieved 27 June 2022 from National Partnership for Women & Families website https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/blog/general/abortion-restrictions-hurt-women-of-color.html. For a detailed discussion of the racist roots of reproductive restrictions, see Ross, L.J. The Color of Choice: White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice. SisterSong Publication. Retrieved 29 June 2022 from https://www.law.berkeley.edu/php-programs/centers/crrj/zotero/loadfile.php?entity_key=2K2QA27B. – about the role women and people who can become pregnant play in our society. It is a decision about their futures and possibilities, their opportunities and dreams. It will have an enormous impact on every aspect of their lives, health, and wellbeing. And it will have especially significant effects on pregnant people in marginalized communities, including women of color, women with disabilities, transgender and nonbinary people, and people living at the intersection of these identities. We must all come together to do everything we can now and in the future to ensure everyone has access to abortion care. And we must fight to win essential freedoms and bodily autonomy for all people.For additional information please see National Partnership for Women & Families. (2022, June 24). Dobbs v. Jackson WHO—What Now? Retrieved 29 June 2022 from National Partnership for Women & Families website https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/blog/general/dobbs-v-jackson-what-now.html.
Methodological note: This analysis uses the 2016-2020 American Community Survey accessed via IPUMS USA, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org. We use a five-year dataset to have a sufficient sample size to analyze state-level data. Data may differ slightly from In Our Own Voice and Planned Parenthood's analysis due to different data years or coding choices. Racial categories in this analysis exclude women who identify as Latina and/or Hispanic, who are analyzed separately. Not all women of reproductive age have the potential to become pregnant – many of them may not be able to for medical reasons or they may not participate in sexual activities that could result in pregnancy. Additionally, due to data limitations, this analysis does not include people who do not identify as women but may become pregnant, including transgender men and nonbinary people.
*For conservative estimates of the transgender and nonbinary populations see Herman, J. L., Flores, A. R., & O'Neill, K. K. (2022, June). How Many Adults and Youth Identify as Transgender in the United States? Retrieved 6 July, 2022 from Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law website: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/trans-adults-united-states/; Wilson, B., A., M., & Meyer, I. H. (2021, June). Nonbinary LGBTQ Adults in the United States. Retrieved 6 July 2022 from Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law website: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/lgbtq-nonbinary-press-release/. The transgender and nonbinary communities are not mutually exclusive. For example, the Williams Institute finds that 42 percent of LGBTQ nonbinary adults identify as transgender. Additionally, the transgender community includes people who identify as men and women, as well as nonbinary. There are also additional nonbinary people who do not identify as LGBTQ, as well as those under the age of 18.
The authors are grateful to Jaclyn Dean, Sharita Gruberg, Jessica Mason, Constance Torian, and Gail Zuagar for their review and thoughtful comments.