STUDY: Banning Abortion Would Disproportionately Impact Low-Income Non-White Women

Now that the Republican Party has officially endorsed a stringent abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest, it’s worth considering what widespread state-level abortion bans would mean for women across the country. According to new research, giving states the power to determine their own abortion legislation would create further divisions along racial and socioeconomic lines, since it would have an outsized impact on limiting the procedure for low-income women of color.

Researchers at Yale University and the City University of New York imagined a hypothetical situation in which Roe v. Wade was repealed and states were left to determine their own abortion legislation, projecting scenarios where either 31 or 46 states with anti-choice lawmakers banned the procedure. Within those two scenarios, researchers examined the average distance that women in each state would need to travel to get to the nearest abortion clinic. Since distance can be a huge deterrent in abortion access, they suggest that this data can be used to estimate future abortion rates across the country:

Researchers extrapolated the data on distance to find that the abortion rates among minorities would be 1.8 points lower than the rates among white women in the scenario involving a 31-state ban. Under the hypothetical 46-state ban, the difference between white women and nonwhite women would be even more stark, at 12.3 points. This suggests that poorer, nonwhite women would struggle more than their privileged counterparts to access a safe, affordable abortion procedure — potentially leading those women to seek harmful, illegal alternatives.

Despite the Republican politicians who tout rolling back Roe v. Wade as a panacea to abortion rates, leaving abortion laws up to the states would — in addition to severely limiting women’s reproductive freedom — introduce a host of new problems to contend with. By threatening equal access to medical services like abortion, state-level abortion bans would only further reinforce the racial and socioeconomic inequality that is already prevalent across the country.