Child care post-Roe could become even more scarce


In 2008, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco launched a study to track the effects of being denied an abortion on women who sought to end their pregnancies. For five years, they monitored the socioeconomic and health-related outcomes of around 1,000 women who tried to attain an abortion between 2008 and 2010; some received abortions, while others were turned away because their pregnancies were just over a clinic’s gestational limit.

The outcomes captured by The Turnaway Study were clear. Women who gave birth after being denied an abortion experienced an increase in household poverty compared to those who received an abortion. They were more likely to lack food and housing, incur debt, stay in contact with a violent partner and end up raising children alone. The well-being of children was also impacted: Babies born after a mother sought an abortion were more likely to live below the federal poverty level, and the mother’s existing children received lower scores on child development evaluations.

Now, experts are turning to this research and similar studies to anticipate what lies ahead for families in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. While it’s impossible to predict the full impact this ruling will have on families, if what women experience after Dobbs tracks with the findings of The Turnaway Study and similar findings from other studies, experts say more families will be needing social supports at a time when those supports are already severely lacking. This could further burden the nation’s collapsing and severely underfunded child care system. Hope for aid vanished late last month when Congress eliminated billions of dollars in funding for child care from a stripped-down reconciliation package that replaces President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

 

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