The Insane Expense of Anti-Abortion Laws on Every Taxpayer

The Insane Expense of Anti-Abortion Laws on Every Taxpayer
Source: AP
Source: AP

On October 29th, Texas' new abortion bill will go into effect. The bill would criminalize morning-after pills, and abortions after 20 weeks. It would shut down 37 of the state's 42 clinics, and deplete the family planning budget by $73 million (despite the fact that abortion clinics don't receive any of that particular funding).

When states do this, it costs every tax payer in surprising ways. Here are a few of them.

1. Lawsuit fees cost everybody

When states have passed (or threatened to pass) laws that blatantly violate women's rights after Roe v. Wade, people tend to have problems with that. People sue the state, and then the taxpayers end up paying for the state's lawyer fees.

And we all know lawyers ain't cheap.

In Kansas, taxpayers (so, you know, you) have forked over $913,000 since 2011 defending anti-abortion legislation. In fact, Texas legislators in favor of the bill budgeted $400,000 for law fees in advance, knowing they would be sued for unconstitutionality. Seriously? If you know you're going to be sued for violating women's rights but you continue anyway, I feel like you might want to reevaluate some stuff. But that's just me. 

2. Restricting access to abortion increases medicaid costs

According to the Guttmacher institute, every $1 invested in family planning (so that's abortion access, plus contraceptives, plus your general sexual health services) saves $5.86 in Medicaid care surrounding an unplanned birth.

In Texas, that'll come out to an estimated $273 million in 2014 and 2015. 

3. The expenses don't stop

Most women chose abortion for financial reasons: a study by the group Advancing New Standards for Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) found that 45% of abortion-seekers were on public assistance, and 76% were on unemployment.

The cost of raising a baby in the United States is no joke: $241,080, according to CNN, and that doesn't include college. Many of the women who can't find a safe abortion end up raising children they knew they couldn't afford. Women who were denied abortions were three times as likely to wind up below the federal poverty line. Extreme poverty makes everything harder: you can't meet your basic survival needs. You are more likely to become homeless (and then your kids get taken away, because you're homeless, and they could end up in foster care, which taxpayers pay for, as well).

4. It's costing us all, and it's state-by-state

Kansas has only one functioning abortion clinic and restrictions on what constitutes a medically necessary abortion. North Dakota has a ban on abortion at six weeks, which is before many women even know they're pregnant. That state also has trap laws designed to shut clinics down on zoning laws or other arbitrary, non-medical restrictions. Arkansas bans abortions at ten weeks. Virginia has trap laws. Ohio forces clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which they frequently can't get because the hospitals are religiously affiliated. North Carolina has a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before you can get an abortion, forced counselling before the procedure, and a mandatory intrusive ultrasound. 

States across the country are tightening control over women's right to choice. This is bad news for everybody with a uterus and/or a fondness for human rights, but it's also bad news for our collective finances.

Texas taxpayers are already paying for the lawsuit over their state's 20-week abortion ban, but if the opposition wins, it'll be a victory for women's rights.

We can afford to provide women with safe, healthy abortions; we can't afford to deny them. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sydney Boles

Sydney is a writer and feminist working on a Bachelors Degree in Global Studies. She is interested in too many social-justice-y things for her own good. She enjoys making marginally edible smoothies, and can be found in New York City. Follow Sydney on Twitter @sydneyboles.

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