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Experts expect removal of federal abortion rights protections in Roe v. Wade will expand child poverty

Overturn of Roe v. Wade could add to child poverty
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The U.S. Supreme Court's removal of federal protections for abortion rights could cause more children to be born into economically unstable families.

Researchers say many women who seek abortion do so for economic reasons. They say barring abortion care will further strain low-income families.

The removal of federal abortion rights protections by the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to expand and intensify child poverty, researchers say.

Joelle Abramowitz, an economist with the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, said many mothers seek abortions for economic reasons, and the effects of not being able to access abortion care will likely be strongest on children in families that are already financially unstable.

"If they have more children, they have fewer resources to devote to each child and that includes both financial resources and also time resources that they would be able to spend," Abramowitz said.

"We would expect to see lower educational attainment and that could mean different types of jobs that people might not have access to because they don't have the additional education," she said.

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published in 2020 and revised earlier this year found that low-income mothers who sought abortion but were denied because they lived in a state that barred the procedure after a certain gestational age have an increased likelihood of experiencing "serious adverse financial events" like eviction, debt, and bankruptcy.

Dr. Dee Ellen Fenner, the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan, said that has an effect on their children. "We worry about how those children will be fed, [and] their ability to be taken care of moving forward."

A study that tracked participants from 2008 to 2016 echoed Fenner's concerns, finding an increased likelihood that women who were denied abortions didn’t have enough money to pay for basic family necessities like food, housing, and transportation.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade also endangers the livelihoods of teenagers, according to Scott Imberman, a professor of economics at Michigan State University. He said teen pregnancies, which have been on the decline for the last two decades, could begin to rise again.

The CDC reports people who become mothers as teenagers are just over half as likely to earn a high school diploma by age 22 compared to their peers don't have children.

Joelle Abramowitz, an economist at the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, said that can harm their future job prospects. "We could really see different career trajectories for younger people that are affected by this if they can't finish high school," she said.

Toussaint joined Michigan Radio in June 2022 as a newsroom intern. He is a Junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and minoring in Afro-American Studies.
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