Jan 30, 2020 - Health

The economics of abortion

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The economic consequences of medical decisions can be enormous. One of the most financially momentous medical decisions that any doctor can make is to deny a woman an abortion.

Driving the news: A new NBER report looks at the difference in financial outcomes between women who narrowly qualified for abortions and those who narrowly didn't. The report finds "a large and persistent increase in financial distress" for the latter group.

Why it matters: It's estimated that roughly one out of every four American women will have an abortion during her reproductive years, but the procedure remains largely taboo.

A separate report from Rhia Ventures reveals just how much ignorance around the subject reigns:

  • 69% of women with health insurance currently do not know whether their coverage includes abortion.
  • Only 37% of benefits managers and human resource leaders interviewed for the Rhia report knew if their health plans covered abortion.

By the numbers: Women in the NBER study who were turned away from having an abortion were 81% more likely than their abortion-receiving counterparts to be evicted or declared bankrupt.

Of note: The NBER report was based on 1,000 women seeking abortions at 30 clinics in 21 states. Rhia based its research on different sources, including interviewing managers at 39 companies.

Go deeper: How many steps it takes to get an abortion in each state

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Warren: A national law should protect abortion rights

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren firmly stated during the Democratic debate on Friday night that the United States cannot rely on the Supreme Court to protect abortion rights.

"I've lived in an America in which abortion was illegal. Rich women still got abortions, and that's what we have to remember about this. States are heading toward trying to ban abortion outright."

Mississippi's six-week abortion ban struck down by three-judge panel

Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Mississippi's six-week abortion ban on Thursday, indicating the three-judge panel finds the law unconstitutional.

The state of play: The ruling upholds a lower court's May 2019 decision. The Fifth Circuit struck down a 15-week abortion ban in December passed in Mississippi last year.

Where top 2020 Democrats stand on abortion policy

Warren, Biden and Sanders debate on Jan. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

2020 Democrats have pitched policies for reproductive health as the most restrictive abortion laws in generations are being challenged in courts across America's red states.

Catch up quick: Most Democratic candidates agree on two things: codifying Roe v. Wade and reversing the Trump administration's Title X gag rule. But, candidates' personal voting histories on reproductive rights remains a sticking point: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar all previously voted for the Hyde Amendment, Politico reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy