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Reproductive Justice Is Critical for Women’s Economic Stability

Amy Traub

Demos’ new briefing book, Everyone’s Economyoffers an economic agenda that will enable all of us to thrive. Women’s History Month is an opportunity to dig into the ways that a race-conscious, populist economic agenda must elevate women. Over the next 2 weeks, Demos will share a series of blog posts that explore different ways that policy can impact women’s economic opportunity and stability. Today we look at why reproductive justice is vital to women’s economic well-being.

The ability to make decisions about whether and when to have children is critical to the economic security of women and their families. 

The ability to make decisions about whether and when to have children is critical to the economic security of women and their families. Having a child is one of life’s most serious commitments, economically and otherwise. An unintended pregnancy can upend financial stability, making it difficult for mothers in particular to pursue education and maintain employment. Yet in 2011, 45 percent of U.S. pregnancies were unintended. Due to lower incomes and more limited access to birth control, black and Latina women, young women, and women living below the poverty line were the most likely to experience an unintended pregnancy. Lack of access to effective birth control and abortion compounds the inequalities that already exist. Unfortunately, in recent years and with alarming frequency, a barrage of attacks at both the federal and state level threatens to further restrict women’s access to birth control and abortion services.

To achieve full equality, women must have the right to control their own bodies and the ability to plan their own families. Policymakers must safeguard the economic security of women and their families by defending against policies that make it difficult to access affordable reproductive health services, and championing policies that expand access to these services. Policymakers should protect access to no-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act or any other health care law, and champion legislation that limits religious and so-called moral exemptions for employers. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH), introduced in the 2015-2016 legislative cycle, is a critical piece of legislation, ensuring abortion coverage and care through the federal government in its role as an insurer, employer, or health care provider, and prohibiting state, local or federal restrictions on private insurance coverage of abortion care.

For a deeper look at reproductive justice, download Demos’ full briefing book and click “Achieve Reproductive Justice” in the table of contents.