State abortion restrictions may affect financially insecure Latinas

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Over a year ago, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that paved the right to abortion, leaving millions of women grappling with the fallout — and Latinas are particularly likely to be affected.

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More than three million Latinas who live in the 26 states where abortion is either banned or likely to be banned are economically insecure, meaning their family income is below 200% of the federal poverty line, according to a new report by the National Partnership for Women and Families and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

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That’s almost half the nearly 6.7 million Latinas who live in those states, representing the largest group of women of color affected by the court’s decision.

Financially insecure women are more likely to be affected by state bans and restrictions, the report notes, because they are likely to lack funds to travel to another state for abortion care. Lack of abortion access also increases the chance they would be pushed into deeper poverty.

“A sound economy requires folks to be able to have freedom and access to what they need in order to make the best decisions,” said Lupe M. Rodríguez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. “The economy is made up of all of us.”

“The effects of folks not being able to make decisions for themselves and not being able to participate in the economy fully has effects on everybody,” she added.

‘The economic insecurity is an additional barrier’

Women who work low-income jobs are less likely to have the necessary funds to travel to another state for the treatment, experts say.

“The economic insecurity is an additional barrier,” said Shaina Goodman, director of reproductive health and rights at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Roughly 1.4 million Latinas in these 26 abortion-restricted states work in service occupations, according to the report. These jobs are less likely to provide benefits such as paid sick time, and the scheduling isn’t flexible for health appointments, the report found.

Twenty-six states have banned or further restricted abortion services by providers such as Planned Parenthood since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

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At large, Hispanic women or Latinas are over represented in low-wage occupations, such as servers and cleaners. This leads them to have one of the largest wage gaps among women, paid just 52 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man earns.

Overall, median earnings for Hispanic or Latino workers are lower than those of other racial and ethnic groups. Hispanic or Latina workers who are 16 years or older made $788 median weekly earnings in the second quarter of 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor has found.

“We will continue to see the economic fallout from the Dobbs decision on communities of color,  particularly Latinas,” said Candace Gibson, director of government relations at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

‘Life shouldn’t be reduced to economics’

Low-income women who are denied abortion care are more likely to be “at risk of being pushed further into poverty,” added Goodman.

Women who are denied an abortion are three times more likely to lose their jobs and four times more likely to fall below the federal poverty level, according to the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health.

However, “life should not be reduced to economics or issues of personal finances,” said Rachel Greszler, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“We can’t allow a financial inconvenience be a justification for ending a life.”

Last year, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) into law, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, such as time off, said Greszler. It applies to businesses with 15 or more employees.

While the mandate does not require employers to either give paid time off or cover abortion costs, “the act is now law and it absolutely covers pregnant workers,” said Greszler.

Several lawmakers have introduced legislation to help address issues pregnant people often face and to provide future parents with support, said Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

“The women I represent, including many Latinas, believe the system has already failed any woman who feels she has to turn to abortion because she has no other choice,” said Nance. “Information is power, and we believe if women know there is support for their decision, they will choose life.”

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