The Economics of Reproductive Healthcare

With recent announcements from the Supreme Court surrounding Roe v. Wade, important considerations for the reproductive health and economic welfare of people in the United States is to be considered. During the last four years, personal research has surrounded reproductive health policy and implementation in Washington state, leading me to further understanding of the societal and economic importance of the topic. Whether universal access to safe, legal abortion or other foundational reproductive care, the economic wellbeing through healthcare availability of reproducing individuals in the country reigns… supreme. 

Research supports the notion that reproductive healthcare, policies that support it, and access to it, all work to increase the economic wellbeing of individuals and communities. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has outlined evidence to prove The Economic Effects of Contraceptive Access. Overarching evidence shows that a crucial factor to the economic wellbeing of an individual is the ability to decide when –and if—to have a child. Literature shows, as the authors compile and prove, that almost every factor of a person’s economic abilities are impacted by bearing, birthing, and raising a child. Most notably is the evidence to support the high labor market participation from women with the implementation of widespread, accessible birth control. Individuals and families are impacted by economic ability of a reproducing individual, giving further power to the choice of having children or not. Beyond individual financial stability, access to reproductive care further supports the economic interests of many through public cost savings. 

The United States’ long standing political upheaval surrounding abortion has not ignored the economic benefit of the country. While the Supreme Court’s recent actions can be argued to ignore the above mentioned economic benefits of reproducing individuals, evidence can be used to support the financial benefit provided to the state. Evidence shows that the United States spends over five billion dollars a year for publicly funded health care relating to unintended pregnancies. In Washington state alone, our public expenditure in 2010 for all care and births for unintended pregnancies funded by Medicaid totaled $220 million. The cost to provide contraception to every reproducing individual in the state, avoiding those pregnancies altogether, would be about $7 million. Although just one example, this can serve as foundation for greater conversation and research surrounding the economic benefits of reproductive healthcare. 

Maintaining autonomy for one’s body with the access to make decisions surrounding it are priceless figures in the eyes of a person able to become pregnant. When one court case’s decision maintained the rights of half of Americans, we deserve a better and more foundational promise of care. The economic wellbeing of people able to become pregnant deserve better. Although at times it feels as though economic wellbeing is the last thing to be considered in cases such as these, maintaining these tools to prove rights’ importance becomes all the more worthy. Remaining educated and impassioned on policy such as this is vital—as is the fight for reproductive health justice when it feels as if there is none. 

2 Replies to “The Economics of Reproductive Healthcare”

    • Yes! I think this was made especially relevant during stay-at-home orders. The workforce removal to provide childcare when daycares and schools weren’t open was strikingly gendered. We discussed this a bit in 101 earlier in the semester!

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