The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the U.S. economy, with women—especially women of color—bearing the brunt of the crisis. For women of color, a lack of access to affordable reproductive health care on top of existing racial and gender inequities hinders their ability to achieve economic security and fully participate in the economy. An equitable recovery from the “she-cession” will ensure that all women are empowered to make reproductive health choices that are in the best interest of themselves, their families, and their careers.
Because of systemic racism and other structural barriers, women of color are more likely to face challenges in accessing comprehensive reproductive health care. Disparities in health outcomes persist for women of color across a range of reproductive health issues—including maternal mortality, cancer screenings, and pregnancy protections in the workplace. Women of color are more likely than their White counterparts to be covered by Medicaid. This means they are disproportionately affected by the Hyde Amendment, which bans Medicaid coverage for abortion except in rare circumstances.
IWPR’s research estimates that ending all state-level abortion restrictions, which disproportionally burden women of color, would result in:
- A larger positive impact on labor force participation for Black and Hispanic women ages 15 to 44
- Significant earnings growth, with the greatest among Black working women ages 15 to 44
This increase in workforce participation and earnings will help foster economic growth while improving women’s equality and narrowing the wage gap for women of color.
Note: Disaggregated data is crucial for understanding the impacts of reproductive health restrictions on women of color. However, limitations in the underlying data currently prevents the presentation of reporting findings based on race and ethnicity for many states.