• <div class="header-image" style="background-image: url(/live/image/gid/4/3182_V7N6_Header.rev.1567542696.jpg);"/><div class="header-background-color"/>

Economic Impact of Abortion Regulation

July 19, 2019

It has been 46 years since the Supreme Court ruled that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right, but that was only the beginning of the conversation.[1] In the past few months, the appointment of more conservative judges has led to a reenergized effort to pass abortion restrictions and possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. So far, the debate has been emotional and heated, but it has rarely examined the economic impact of restricting abortions.

While a multi-dimensional debate, there are traditionally two schools of thought: pro-life and pro-choice, both of whom associate very different economic costs with the topic. Those who identify as pro-life point to the economic value of children. They also see abortions as a direct correlation to lower populations, making it challenging and costly to care for older generations. Those who identify as pro-choice point to the economic value of personal agency and economic autonomy.

Image: Supportive and anti-abortion U.S. states, 2000 vs. 2019. Source: Wikipedia.Image: Supportive and anti-abortion U.S. states, 2000 vs. 2019. Source: Wikipedia.

In assessing the economic impact of abortions and their restrictions, it is important to first consider why women seek them in the first place. According to the Guttmacher Institute, almost half of the 1,209 abortion patients surveyed did so because they were “not ready for a(nother) child/timing is wrong” (25%) or because they “can’t afford a baby now” (23%).[2][3] Many women who seek out abortions can barely afford the service let alone the costs of maternal care and raising a child which costs $233,610 for the average middle income family.[4] In the U.S., services like Medicaid and Welfare provide help with social services to meet basic human needs for people of lower income brackets. Therefore, those who cannot afford to get an abortion, will need further financial assistance to raise that child, leaving it up to the government to provide assistance through these programs. Because of legislation like the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits states from using money to pay for abortions unless they are the result of rape, incest, or “necessary to save the life of the woman,” abortion services are financed through a combination of out of pocket payments (69%), Medicaid (15.6%), non-Medicaid resources (7.3%), or other methods(8.6%).[5][6] The Hyde Amendment insures that Medicaid cannot be used to cover abortions except in those limited circumstances. This ensures that a miniscule number of abortions are paid for with federal taxes whereas the rest are paid by individual states in programs that match spending on certain services.[7] According to another study by the Guttmacher Institute, U.S. taxpayers save $7 for every dollar the government spends on family planning funds (this includes STI testing), which netted to $13.6 billion in savings in 2010.[8] Yet many politicians including President Trump have called for the defunding of clinics like Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions as one of their many services.[9] During a study of H.R. 3134, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, the Congressional Budget Office projected that despite the $520 million in direct savings over 2016-2025 from defunding, the bill would subsequently increase direct spending on extra births and the ensuing children by $650 million during the same period.[10] This nets to a direct spending of $130 million.[11] Another study that examined what happened to women who are denied abortions found that they were more likely to receive public assistance after one year than those who received an abortion. (76% vs. 44%).[12] They were also more likely to be below the Federal Poverty Line (67% vs. 56%).[13]

Image: The costs of raising a child are estimated to be $233,610. Source: USDAImage: The costs of raising a child are estimated to be $233,610. Source: USDA

Abortion restrictions also directly impact women’s access to education and their ability to support themselves financially. The International Labor Office found that the more children a woman has, the more they are affected by the motherhood pay gap. These women are then in turn compensated less than their single counterparts.[14] This disproportionately affected low paid women and caused full-time female workers to earn $1,100 less per child in 200.[15] The same study also found that this gap increased with additional children and persisted even as they got older.[16] In addition to impacting their work lives, unplanned pregnancies affect a woman’s ability to continue their education.[17] Furthermore, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development who studied gender equality in education, over the past 50 years, increasing access to education for women accounts for about half of economic growth.[18]

The abundance of current legislation that attempts to challenging Roe v. Wade in states like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and others, costs state governments exorbitant fees as groups continue to block and challenge bills they view as extreme or unconstitutional. While the costs vary depending on how long the legislation is litigated, these sweeping abortions restrictions are seeing lots of opposition. Because of the precedent set in Roe v. Wade, states cannot ban abortion before viability.[19] This makes heartbeat bills, which make abortion illegal as soon as the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected, unconstitutional.[20] Even, the chief legal officer for Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group, has acknowledged the unlikelihood that these bills persist because as they are in conflict with common laws.[21] John Kasich, the governor of Ohio at the time, also cited the legal costs when vetoing the Ohio Heartbeat Bill (HB 493) in 2016 despite supporting its content saying, “The State of Ohio would be the losing party in that lawsuit (given that the federal courts would strike the bill down) and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers. Furthermore, such a defeat invites additional challenges to Ohio’s strong legal protection for unborn life.”[22] The incremental approach used in the past, was not as costly to states because there was less immediate recourse.[23]

In 2019, nine states have passed abortion laws that either forbid abortions passed a certain point or outlaw them completely. Of those nine, all have incurred immediate backlash from courts.[24] According to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the state spent $225,940 defending the three abortion-related cases it introduced since 2012 believes that it could exceed $1 million.[25]

Much of the conservative argument centers around the future economic value of unborn children. They have argued that Planned Parenthood’s assessment of savings is incorrect given that it doesn’t calculate the tax payments and other resources the children would give to society in the long term.[26] As of 2017, the average American spent $10,489 in taxes each year.[27] This accumulates to $823,795.571 per person over the average American lifespan of 78.539 years.[28][29] Using the number of abortions that occurred over the same time that the study on government savings was conducted, the government stood to make $8.03 billion (exactly $8,030,913,339).[30]

On the other hand, the calculations of government savings from family planning clinics aggregated to $13.6 billion (this figure includes STI testing) in 2010.[31] While it is impossible to compare these figures given all the other factors involved, it begins to give a sense of the overall economic impact of this controversial issue.

Although abortion debate is largely a moral one, it ignores the costs to women, society, and states. There are often too many variables to directly compare the costs of restricting abortions to allowing them, but most pundits are not looking at the full set of costs anyways. Most are only examining the small set of costs they would associate with their argument, namely the possible economic worth of a child versus the cost to the family and state of raising the child. Despite one’s personal beliefs, it is important to fully understand the economic costs of this prolonged debate in order to make more rational decisions.

Student Blog Disclaimer
  • The views expressed on the Student Blog are the author’s opinions and don’t necessarily represent the Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s strategies, recommendations, or opinions.

References

  [1]https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/roe-v-wade

  [2]https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/tables/370305/3711005t3.pdf

  [3]https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2005/reasons-us-women-have-abortions-quantitative-and-qualitative-perspectives

  [4]https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2018/02/26/raising-child-costs-233-610-you-financially-prepared-parent/357243002/

  [5]https://www.kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/abortion-under-medicaid/?currentTimefram%20e=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

  [6]https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/journals/j.whi.2013.03.001.pdf

  [7]https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2019/02/28/medicaid-and-state-budgets-checking-the-facts-ye t-again/

  [8]https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/journals/MQ-Frost_1468-0009.1 2080.pdf

  [9]http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/422409/donald-trumps-planned-parenthood-pander-ian-tuttle

  [10]https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/ltrperman entdefundplannedparenthood.pdf

  [11]Ibid.

  [12]https://go-galegroup-com.proxy.library.upenn.edu/ps/i.do?p=OVIC&u=upenn_main&id=GALE%7CEJ3010946221&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon

  [13]Ibid.

  [14]http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/@publ/documents/publi cation/wcms_348041.pdf

  [15]https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/asa-sfl100510.php

  [16]Ibid.

  [17]http://www.cctech.edu/documents/unplannedpregnancyandcommunitycolleges.pdf

  [18]http://www.oecd.org/employment/50423364.pdf

  [19]https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/26/health/heartbeat-bills-abortion-bans-history/index.html

  [20]Ibid.

  [21]Ibid.

  [22]http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2019/images/01/25/veto_message.pdf

  [23]https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/26/health/heartbeat-bills-abortion-bans-history/index.html

  [24]https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/09/which-states-are-blocking-abortion- and-which-are-enacting-protections/?utm_term=.0d7b38514dd5

  [25]https://mississippitoday.org/2018/12/20/a-tremendous-amount-cost-of-defending-state-in- abortion-lawsuits-could-soar-past-1-million/

  [26]https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/10/07/a-foolish-take-how-much-does-the-average-american-pay-in-taxes/106237216/

  [27]http://www.civilrightsfortheunborn.org/economic-arguments-for-abortion.htm

  [28]https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN?locations=US&view=chart

  [29]https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2005/reasons-us-women-have-abortions-quantitative-and-qualitative-perspectives

  [30]https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/journals/MQ-Frost_1468-0009.1 2080.pdf

  [31]Ibid.

PENN WHARTON PPI
RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT:

  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="http://www.nber.org/data/" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/data/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt71/pwt71_form.php" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html" target="_blank">http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics" target="_blank">http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links</a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/" target="_blank">http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2" target="_blank">http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series" target="_blank">http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/about/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4</a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/#</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products</a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/topics" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/topics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/" target="_blank">http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states" target="_blank">http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>