5 ways that a ban on abortion could affect
women working in the workforce


Roe. Wade is all but likely to be overturned, which could render abortions illegal in around 50%
of US states. If this happens, the historical research suggests that it will not just impact women
on a personal level but also impact their professional lives as well.

This decision, which was a draft that was released to Politico at the beginning of this month, can
affect a woman’s chances of working at all the kinds of jobs she chooses to do and the amount
of education she gets, and how much income she earns and the dreams and goals she dreams
of for herself. It is also the case that her profession impacts every aspect of her life, from her
chances of living in poverty to how she views herself-worth.

In addition, removing the capacity to make this decision is likely to reverse the decades of
advancement women have made in the workplace, which will have consequences that affect
women’s position in the world.

As Caitlin Myers, Professor of Economics at Middlebury College, put it, “Childbearing is the
single most economically important decision most women make.”

We’re aware of decades of research about the negative effects of abortion bans on women. This
research was conducted by Myers as well as over 150 other economists presented in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which
is the Mississippi case expected to overturn Roe in v. Wade. In addition to studies that span
over a long period of time that focus on the outcomes of women who were not able to obtain an
abortion, versus the ones who were able to, more solid evidence about the negative
consequences of having children generally. It’s also common sense, says Jason Lindo, a
professor of economics at Texas A&M University.

“Anyone who has had kids or seriously thought about having kids knows it’s super costly in
terms of time and money,” Lindo explained. “So of course restrictions that make it harder for
people to a time when they have kids or which increase the number of children that they have is
going to have serious impacts on their careers and their economic circumstances.”

In spite of the absence of an overall ban, state restrictions on abortion have imposed an
enormous burden on women as well as society in general. The Institute for Women’s Policy
Research (IWPR) estimated that restrictions at the state level have caused economic losses of
$105 billion annually in lower labor force participation, decreased income, increased turnover,
and time off for working women.

The ban on abortions will not impact all women equally either. Myers claims that in the regions
of the United States that ban abortion and where travel distances increase for women who want
to obtain an abortion, three-quarters of women who seek abortions are still able to get an
abortion. This means that about one-quarter of women in those regions (in the words of Myers,
“the poorest, the most vulnerable, the most financially fragile women in a wide swath of the
Deep South and the Midwest” are not eligible for the health services they need.

As the US has to deal with an ongoing labor shortage — which is in large part caused by women
who quit the workforce to take care of children and their elders during the pandemic The
Supreme Court’s anticipated decision could make matters worse and could alter women’s
experiences working for many future years.

1.) The labor force participation of women may decrease.

Access to abortion is a key reason which has led to a rise in women’s labor market participation.
Nationally, women’s labor rate of participation increased from approximately 40 percent prior to
the time Roe V. Wade was passed in 1973, and then to close to 60 percent prior to the outbreak
(men’s participation was around 70% at the time). The ban on abortion could hinder and even
reverse some gains.

Based on results of The Turnaway Study which is a landmark study that compares the results
over time for women throughout the nation who have had or refused abortions. University of
California San Francisco professor Diana Greene Foster and fellow researchers discovered that
six months later after they were denied abortions they are less likely to work full-time than
women who had an abortion. This difference was evident for four years after women were
denied abortions an issue that could hinder their chances of employment in the near future.

2) Lower educational attainment

Education rates are a major factor for job prospects and wages. In 1996, research conducted by
Joshua Angrist and William Evans studied states that have liberalized abortion laws prior to
Roe. Wade found abortion access to raise education rates and better labor market outcomes.
American University economics professor Kelly Jones utilized state-wide abortion regulations
information to conclude the legality of abortion for young women who got pregnant gained their
education level by nearly a full year, and the likelihood of them completing college by around 20
percentage points. The data is mostly caused by the impact of abortion on teenage Black

Other studies conducted by Jones as well as Mayra Pineda-Torres showed that simple
exposure to restrictions targeted at abortion providers, such as TRAP laws, decreased young
Black teens’ chances of attending college or finishing it. A lack of education can affect the kinds
of jobs women can be competent for.

3) The kinds of jobs women are offered will be less specialized

The presence of children has a significant impact on the kind of work women can get, often
leading women towards part-time jobs or low-paying jobs. While a wider ban on abortion is in
the works many states have already implemented legislation that makes getting abortions more
challenging. The law also provides the perfect opportunity for researchers such as Kate Bahn,
chief economist of the research-based nonprofit Washington Center for Equitable Growth who
found that women living in those states are at lower risk to advance into higher-paying jobs.

“We know a lot from previous research on the initial expansion of birth control pills and abortion
care in the ’70s that, when women have a little more certainty over their family planning, they
just make choices differently,” Bahn said to Recode.

This could result in more workplace segregation and women’s underrepresentation in specific
fields, such as teaching and health care for instance — which can reduce wages in these fields,
even after considering the amount of education, experience, and even the location.

4.) The above can negatively impact the income

Limiting the jobs women can get, putting them out of the workforce, and getting less education
All of these can affect women’s earnings which are already lower in comparison to men’s.

One research paper is written by economics professor Ali Abboud looked at states in which
abortion was legal prior to Roe the Supreme Court’s decision. Wade found that women who had
an abortion to avoid unplanned pregnancy for only one year saw an 11 percent rise in the hourly
wage when compared to the average. Jones’s study discovered that access to abortions in the
legal system for young women who are pregnant increased the likelihood of them obtaining into
the workforce by 35 percent.

It is estimated that the IWPR estimates that if the current abortion restrictions were eliminated
and women across the US could earn an extra $1,600 annually on average. The loss of income
isn’t only affecting those who are pregnant but not wanted and their families, but also their
spouses as well as their children. Income is a factor that affects the rates of poverty of not just
those who undergo unwanted pregnancies, but as well as their current children.

5) Access to abortions is not available, which hinders women’s career

Most importantly, having access to abortions is a major issue that limits women’s potential for
their own careers. Based on the research of her team from the Turnaway Study, Foster
discovered the women that could not have an abortion of their choice were considerably less
likely to set goals for one year related to work than women who had access to abortion likely
due to the fact that these objectives would be more difficult to reach while caring of a baby. Also,
they were less likely to set the one-year aspirations or five-year aspirational goals generally.

The lack of autonomy for women over their reproductive rights further exacerbates gender
inequality for women, in ways that are real and temporary, C. Nicole Mason President and chief
executive officer of IWPR said to Recode.

“That’s a very psychic, emotional, psychological feeling — to feel and understand that my
equality, my rights, are less than my male counterparts,” she explained. “The law makes it that
way. “The Supreme Court is making it the law.”