One of the arguments that Mississippi has put forward for a law against abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is going through the Supreme Court, is that women have made enough economic progress to make abortion unnecessary.
Prior to the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v Wade case, which established constitutional abortion up to 23 weeks, “few supported women who wanted a fulfilling family life and a successful career,” said Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch. in a July statement that summarizes the arguments and announces that she has sued the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization memo. “Maternity leave was rare. Paternal leave was unheard of. The gold standard for professional success was working from 9 to 5 with a corner office. The flexibility of the gig economy was a fairy tale.
“Over the past 50 years,” she continued, “women have forged their own path to achieving the best balance for success in their professional and personal lives.”
While some progress has been made, the idea that the benefits described by Ms. Fitch are available to most women is still an exaggeration.
Parental leave is still rare. The United States is the only wealthy country that does not have national paid maternity leave. According to the Statistics Office of Labor, family leave is available only to 20 percent of private sector workers and 8 percent of low-paid workers.
The ability to work from home is not that widespread. Even with office closures due to the pandemic, less than half of American workers in 2020 were able to work from home.
Research has shown that women face many barriers to full employment without access to abortion. One study last year compared the results of women who managed to get an abortion and women who were denied the procedure. A “significant and permanent increase in financial hardship” was found for those who were refused abortion, including increased debt and higher eviction rates. Research has also directly linked a woman’s ability to control her fertility with increased labor force participation.
Becoming a mother can also have significant economic consequences. Mothers lose tens of thousands of dollars in lifetime earnings due to the so-called “maternal penalty.” Fathers do not face lower wages.
Although pregnancy discrimination is prohibited, it is still widespread. According to the analysis, in two-thirds of dozens of pregnancy discrimination cases filed between 2015 and 2019, courts sided with employers, saying they did not need to provide pregnant women with accommodations such as extra bathroom breaks or stools for where you can sit. from A Better Balance, a national human rights organization that provides free legal advice to pregnant women who face discrimination.
If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, at least 20 states will already have laws or constitutional amendments to ban abortion as quickly as possible, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, and five more states. will probably follow suit.