By Marc Stier, Director, PA Budget & Policy Center
Among the rights that are critical to all human beings is the right to personal autonomy—that is the right to make fundamental choices about our bodies and the course of our lives. There is no choice as life-defining as that of whether to bring a new child into the world. Without the right to have an abortion and access to the procedure, pregnant people are denied the autonomy and freedom to make decisions about their own health, well-being, and the course of their lives. Banning abortion would limit the rights of half the population: women, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people, undermining their ability to be full participants in our political, social, economic, and cultural life.
If those who oppose the right to abortion were seriously concerned about the well-being of fetuses and their potential to become children, they would focus their attention on ensuring that all families, including those who are pregnant or are mothers, could afford health care and child care and that every child could live in a safe, clean community with parks, recreation centers, and good schools. And if those who oppose the right to an abortion were serious in their efforts to limit it, they’d enact these and other policies that we know would drastically reduce the number of abortions.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the Pennsylvania General Assembly will move quickly to limit the right to an abortion and, possibly, ban it entirely. And that will have dire economic, as well as personal and political, consequences.
Restricting abortion harms people unequally. People with higher incomes already have greater access to abortion and can travel to other states or, if necessary, foreign countries where abortion is available. Those who are struggling financially, who are young, who are LGBTQ, or who are people of color have less access to the reproductive health care they urgently need. These disparities in access to vital health care will be greatly exacerbated if abortion is made illegal.
Having children is a wonderful experience for parents who want them and are able to care for them. It is also an economic burden, which can make the struggle out of poverty more difficult. Those who are denied abortion care are more likely to fall into poverty than those who receive the care they need. The odds of being unemployed is three times greater for people who have been denied an abortion than those who are able to obtain one. Denying the right to an abortion in Pennsylvania means that more of our children would grow up in poverty and suffer all of the problems that come with doing so.
PBPC works toward the goal that everyone in Pennsylvania will have quality housing, food, and health care, as well as an equal opportunity to secure an education that enables them to use their talents and abilities in ways that benefit themselves and others. A state that limits or eliminates the right to an abortion is one in which the goal of an equitable Pennsylvania is even more distant. That is why we speak out today.
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