Saturday, July 02, 2022

Roe v Wade: the economics of abortion

Martin Sandbu, writing in FT, argues that the recent US Supreme Court judgement overlooks the economic implications of abortion and the judgement is flawed for that reason. (Please see my earlier post below first).

In his judgement, Justice Alito said that a balance has to be struck between the "interests of a woman who wants an abortion" and the individual states'  "interest in protecting fetal life". It was for individual states to determine where that balance lay.

Sandbu argues that not granting abortion in the interest of protecting fetal life has serious economic implications for the women involved. He cites a study that has shown that women denied abortion are more likely to end up in poverty than those who were not. There are other studies that have shown that women who had the right to abortion had a better chance of finishing college and getting a professional occupation.

The right to abortion not only has implications for poverty and inequality in society, it also influences the equations between the sexes. Besides, Sandbu argues, those who profess concern for fetal life have not shown much interest in providing the necessary economic support to those denied abortion and who are compelled to raise children in trying circumstances. The anti-abortionists often are also against welfarist measures.

These are all valid and fairly incontrovertible points. But how does change the fundamental proposition put forward by the US Supreme Court? Faced with all the above facts, it is legislatures that have to make choices and they have to make those choices based on their understanding of the will of the people. If people in a given state believe that denying abortion results in an incorrect balance between individual and societal interests, they are free to give expression to their will through the power of the ballot.

I'm afraid the point I made in my earlier post on the subject does not change: the Supreme Court ruling is about what the Constitution says, it is not about taking a position on abortion

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