'I went to bed hungry': being denied an abortion can lead to financial turmoil
Photo: Alamy Stock Photo
Kayla Moye began a 90-day prison sentence in Cleveland when she found out that she was pregnant. She was 19 and wanted an abortion.
She visited a nurse at the facility to ask about her options. "Your exact words were" that would not be an option "for me," said Moye. "I later found out that it was completely illegal." When she was released, she was in her second trimester and decided to end her pregnancy. Her son was born prematurely two months later.
Related: Tennessee Republicans approve six-week abortion ban in surprising vote
Before being detained, Moye worked full time in a casino and did a bachelor's degree in business. "My life was pretty decent," she said. "I made decent money for my age and I just wanted to finish school, find my life and passion, and not have to worry about someone else's responsibility."
But resuming her life after prison proved difficult. Moye, who went back to work two months after the birth of her son, said she was not entitled to childcare or food stamps. The formula for her son was expensive.
"I had turned off my lights. I had turned off my gas. I often went to bed hungry, ”she said. She said paying for things like her son's food and a car seat made her fall back on bills. Her car was repossessed during this time, and she occasionally needed the help of her parents to stay afloat. She fell into a depression.
Moye's experience reflects a shared reality.
I had turned off my lights. I had turned off my gas. I often went to bed hungry
According to a study published earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research, women who are denied abortions are more likely to have financial problems than women who are undergoing the procedure. The researchers found higher debt, bankruptcy, and eviction rates among those who terminated unwanted pregnancies.
Sarah Miller, an economist at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, said that new mothers can expect wages to fall after birth, which is associated with medical costs and the cost of caring for a child. But for those who have requested and refused to have an abortion, their subsequent financial precariousness reflects a forward-looking level of self-confidence. Miller's research suggests that people seeking abortions have a keen sense of their financial situation, the reality of childcare, and the exacerbated need of the two.
Miller and her team analyzed the creditworthiness of hundreds of women in the United States who applied for abortions. One group received abortions and the other was rejected due to advanced gestational age. The researchers found that women who had no access to abortions had an average of around $ 1,700 more debt; 81% were more likely to have negative public financial data such as bankruptcies, evictions and tax liens; and had rather bad credit. (In three years before the unwanted pregnancies, the researchers said their credit scores were "almost indistinguishable.")
The most striking thing was that there were financial gaps between the two groups during the six-year period that Miller and her team were studying. Miller said she expected the gap to narrow after the first year or two. "But it seemed to put these women's households in an ongoing kind of financial turmoil," she said.
These results come from states in the United States - sometimes under the guise of the coronavirus pandemic - and the United States resetting access to abortion. The Supreme Court considers its best known abortion case in decades. Next week, judges are expected to decide whether the state of Louisiana can impose strict regulations on abortion providers that require them to have regulatory rights in nearby hospitals. Proponents of abortion rights say a decision in favor of the state would signal that states could severely restrict individuals' access to the process.
Although attempts by states to classify abortions as not essential have been overturned in court, the New England Journal of Medicine has ruled out thousands of abortions at the start of the pandemic. Miller said that if more women are denied abortions, more women will likely face economic difficulties. "Short-term restrictions on access to care could potentially have long-term, persistent financial ramifications," she said.
Short-term restrictions on access to care could potentially have long-term, persistent financial consequences
Miller's research is based on the Turnaway study, a longitudinal study by the University of San Francisco that examined how access to abortion affects women's lives. The study, which was recently published as a book, tracked 1,000 women in the United States between 2008 and 2010 and interviewed them over a five-year period.
The researchers found that the impact of denying women abortion went beyond financial hardship. Women who were brought to pregnancy also had complications more often than their colleagues during pregnancy and stayed with abusive partners.
Diana Greene Foster, the lead researcher on the Turnaway study, said two of the study participants had actually died of complications related to childbirth. This is an astonishing number because, according to the latest statistics, the maternal mortality rate in the US is 17.4 per 100,000 live births.
Foster, a demographer, said she was impressed with exactly how women's reasons for wanting abortions were reconciled with the results. Women who said they couldn't afford a child tended to get poorer. Those who were concerned about raising a child with the man concerned tended to break up these relationships. and those who were concerned about the impact on children that they already had tended to have poorer financial and development outcomes for their children.
"The data really makes it clear that people are making thoughtful decisions," said Foster. “You understand how that will work. And they are right. "
Moye said she had arrived in a good place - emotionally and financially. At 25, she was engaged to be married, and her son, now five, has a two-year-old sister. She works for a dating service and owns several companies, including a beauty bar and a stake in a tattoo studio. She and her fiance buy a house in suburban Cleveland and are planning a master's degree.
"The main reason why I and my fiance started exploring businesses and taking the entrepreneurial path was because we wanted to be able to pay for the children's college," she said.
She hopes that they will be able to go their own way without financial or other restrictions.
"I think everything boils down to freedom," she said.
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