The Economic and Governmental Sides of Legalized Abortion
Abortion has been a subject of controversy over the past century. Eventually the decision was settled in favor of pro-choice, in the Supreme Court case Roe versus Wade. At 10:00 a.m. on January 22,1973, the United States Supreme Court announced that the Texas abortion law was unconstitutional. The Court also declared the Georgia abortion law unacceptable. The vote was seven to two, with Burger, Blackmun, Powell, Stewart, Brennan, Douglas, and Marshall in the majority. Rehnquist and White opposed the decision. Abortion throughout the nation had been declared legal. Abortion laws in thirty-one states, including Texas, were overturned. Fifteen states, including Georgia, would have to rewrite their more liberal laws. Three other states, Hawaii, Washington, and Alaska-where rigid abortion laws had been repealed-had residency requirements or other limits that would have to be eliminated. Only the New York law, which allowed abortion without restrictions, was unaffected by the decision (Gold69).
At first thought, abortion may not appear to have any involvement in economics. But, economics and abortion are, in fact, deeply intertwined. Studies of abortion show that financial hardship is the reason most often cited by women seeking abortions. Lack of money is rarely the only reason a woman seeks an abortion. Most women do so for a complex set of reasons, but money is frequently the paramount factor, the one that tips the scales in favor of abortion. This is especially true for low-income families and single
women. The abortion rights movement has since its earliest days argued that poverty is one of the most compelling reasons why women must have access to safe, legal abortion, so that women who cannot afford a child will not be forced to have one (McDonnell 71).
The only possible problem with this argument is if a woman seeks to end a pregnancy for reasons other than financial ones. If poverty is the reason a woman is terminating a pregnancy, if in fact wants the child but cannot afford to have it, she is actually being coerced into an abortion. She does not, in fact, have a choice at all. For many women, this is precisely their perception of the situation: they go to abortion counselors saying that they "have no choice," they "have to" have an abortion. In some hard pressed communities in Canada the economic ups and downs are clearly reflected in the volume of abortion referrals: counselors in Sudbury, Ontario, for example, reported a sharp rise in the number of women seeking abortions immediately after the massive layoffs in the nickel industry in 1978.
Without legalized abortion, the economy itself would suffer. The constraints on choice are not a matter of economics alone, but reflect a far deeper bias against parenting. Modern industrial society has isolated the childbearing role within the nuclear family. When people become parents in our society,...