Socioeconomic Outcomes of Women Who Receive and Women Who Are Denied Wanted Abortions in the United States

Foster DG, Biggs MA, Ralph L, Gerdts C, Roberts S, Glymour MM

American Journal of Public Health
Jan 2018

Objectives. To determine the socioeconomic consequences of receipt versus denial of abortion.

Methods. Women who presented for abortion just before or after the gestational age limit of 30 abortion facilities across the United States between 2008 and 2010 were recruited and followed for 5 years via semiannual telephone interviews. Using mixed effects models, we evaluated socioeconomic outcomes for 813 women by receipt or denial of abortion care.

Results. In analyses that adjusted for the few baseline differences, women denied abortions who gave birth had higher odds of poverty 6 months after denial (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 3.77; P < .001) than did women who received abortions; women denied abortions were also more likely to be in poverty for 4 years after denial of abortion. Six months after denial of abortion, women were less likely to be employed full time (AOR = 0.37; P = .001) and were more likely to receive public assistance (AOR = 6.26; P < .001) than were women who obtained abortions, differences that remained significant for 4 years.

Conclusions. Women denied an abortion were more likely than were women who received an abortion to experience economic hardship and insecurity lasting years. Laws that restrict access to abortion may result in worsened economic outcomes for women.