Blog: The Impacts of the Overturning of Roe v. Wade on Individuals Experiencing Poverty
By Mariska Konnik
On June 24th, 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that provided constitutional access to abortion across America for nearly 50 years. This landmark decision will limit the access to abortion substantially as it gives individual states the power to implement laws that restrict or ban access, as well as create consequences for medical experts providing the procedure such as confiscated licenses or incarceration. (1) This event is likely to substantially shift the landscape regarding reproductive rights, causing a significant impact on women, girls/youths, trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals, especially those experiencing poverty.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade resulted in the court ruling 6-3 to uphold a Republican-based Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. (1) Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan heavily criticized the decisions of the majority, closing their statements by stating, “with sorrow – for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent.” (2) In 1973, the original Roe v. Wade ruling established that an individual’s decision to have an abortion was protected under rights that stem from the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment which outlines the protection of a citizen’s right to “life, liberty and property.” (1)
The impact of this decision is set to have substantial impacts on the rights of many individuals within the United States, with many already being seen just days after the announcement. President Joe Biden, in response to the decision, stated “the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk… The court has done what it’s never done before, expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized. The court’s decision to do so will have real and immediate consequences.” (2) This is already being seen as many abortion clinics in the states with “trigger laws” regarding abortion have promptly stopped administering them as they assess what this ruling means for them. (1) The Justices opposing the overturning decision have stated how “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” (2) alluding to the limitations that are going to be felt by women all across America. Additionally, those same Justices spoke on the impact this decision will undeniably have on women experiencing poverty, stating “above all others, women lacking financial resources will suffer from today’s decision.” (2)
This ruling is set to have a considerable impact on women, girls/youth, trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals who are experiencing poverty. This comes at a time when both the pandemic and the economy have had intense impacts on women, specifically within the workforce. The wage gap, lack of affordable childcare, and lack of paid leave for pregnancy are barriers that low-income individuals already face within society. In addition, there is the gendered expectation that pregnant individuals are expected to take on the responsibility of childcare, impacting both their living wage and their overall well-being. (3) With the limitations imposed on abortion access, women are left with little opportunity to engage in the workforce if pregnant, causing significant impacts on their lives. The Turnaway Study, conducted by Dr. Diana Foster, a professor at the University of California San Francisco, found that women who were denied an abortion were four times more likely to be living below the Federal Poverty Line. (3) Additionally, this decision is set to have an impact on the cost of healthcare, an issue that already impacts many Americans financially. Previously, health insurance coverage for abortions was already limited, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade set to further limit this to the point where there may be no coverage available. (5) Individuals living in states restricting abortion access will also face the challenge of travelling across the country to have the procedure provided to them, causing additional financial struggles through travelling costs, and the complication of out-of-state health coverage. (2,5)
This adds further complications to those who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families by removing the ability to make decisions that impact not only their wellbeing, but the potential well-being of their family. (3) Consequences of this may include children being raised in impoverished families or growing up with a lack of opportunities due to the circumstances the pregnancy occurred under. Dr. Foster’s research demonstrates that children born as a result of a denied abortion were more likely to live below the poverty line. (3) The impacts that the Roe v. Wade decision is set to have on individuals experiencing poverty is undeniable and places a further barrier to the well-being of pregnant individuals and their families.
While this landmark decision is based in the United States, it is important to think about the consequences it may have within North America, and the broader scope of the world. A statement released by Planned Parenthood Toronto explains how “every time a high-profile right-wing stunt is carried off in the US or Canada, it opens the door slightly wider here in Canada. It shifts the benchmark of what is acceptable to even debate.” (4) While there are no laws governing abortion in Canada, accessing abortion services are not a simple or easy process, and may call into question the existence of these limited services that do exist. (4)
The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is one of sincere magnitude and is likely to have an undeniable impact on women, girls/youths, trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals throughout America. Going forward, there is likely to be intense discussion, debate, and protest surrounding this topic, and the decision made on June 24th, 2022 by the U.S. Supreme Court is one that will not be forgotten.
End of text reference list (chronological):
Gollom, M., & Iorfida, C. (2022, June 24). U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion rights up to states. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ussc-dobbs-abortion-ruling-1.6495637
de Vogue, A., Sneed, T., Duster, C., & Cole, D. (2022, June 24). Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/24/politics/dobbs-mississippi-supreme-court-abortion-roe-wade/index.html
Corbett, H. (2022, June 7). How Overturning Roe v. Wade Can Impact The Economy. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/hollycorbett/2022/06/07/how-overturning-roe-v-wade-can-impact-the-economy/?sh=17ece6af632f
Datta-Ray, M. (2022, June). Planned Parenthood Toronto on Roe v. Wade Press Release. Planned Parenthood Toronto. http://ppt.on.ca/planned-parenthood-toronto-on-roe-v-wade-press-release/
Nova, A. (2022, June 27). Here’s how the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision could affect health insurance coverage. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/27/supreme-court-roe-v-wade-decision-could-affect-health-insurance-coverage.html
Mariska Konnik is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta with a BA in Criminology. She has a passion for social justice and hopes to assist individuals within the Edmonton community by sharing information and resources. She hopes to become a lawyer to continue her passion for social justice.