In-Depth: 'Turnaway Study' offers clues about the economic impact of overturning Roe v Wade

Economics of ab
Posted at 4:09 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 21:08:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – If the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, researchers estimate 75,000 Americans who want an abortion will give birth instead in the first year alone.

Those unwanted births will have lasting financial impacts on families and put added burden on the social safety nets in states, according to a multi-year study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

It’s called the Turnaway Study. For years, researchers followed two groups of pregnant women to understand the economics of abortion access.

They focused on women who showed up at abortion clinics in the second trimester of pregnancy, right around the legal cutoff in their state.

Some of the women were just inside the cutoff and got an abortion. The others were too late, and got turned away from the clinic.

Researchers then followed both groups for years and checked in on their finances.

“We see the differences in their economic well-being from the moment that one group gives birth and that doesn't mitigate for years,” said lead author Dr. Diana Greene Foster.

Within the first six months, the study found turnaways were three times as likely to be unemployed, nearly four times as likely to live in poverty, and six times as likely to receive public assistance. Those economic differences lingered for at least five years.

“It's clearly life-altering because they're raising a child that they felt that they weren't ready to raise,” she said. “And we can measure that in one other way, which is the people who received abortions were more likely to go on and have children within the five years under better circumstances.”

A study co-author, Sarah Miller of the University of Michigan, analyzed the women’s credit scores.

She found those who got near-limit abortions and those who were turned away had similar credit scores in the years before they arrived at the clinic. But the turnaways saw a 78 percent increase in having past-due debt, and an 81 percent increase in things like bankruptcies and evictions.

“Something most people don't realize is that 60 percent [of those seeking abortions] are already mothers,” said Foster. “These abortion bans have the potential to make life even harder for people who are trying to take care of their families.”

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, it would give states the authority to regulate, restrict or allow abortions. About half of the states are likely to ban abortions. The impact will fall most heavily on the most vulnerable women in states with the weakest social safety nets, Foster said.

In the year after the ruling, Middlebury College economics professor Caitlin Knowles Myers estimates that about 100,000 women seeking abortions won’t be able to get them. She estimates about 25 percent of those women will be able to order pills and self-manage their abortion, leaving about 75,000 women who will carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.