The economy, not just emotions, linked to the fight against abortion


Left to right, Anna Artz and Alana Westfall stood outside Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma City on Thursday, holding signs supporting access to abortion. (Photo by Janice Francis-Smith)

Two Oklahoma transplants, skilled workers in some of Oklahoma’s key industries, stood outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Oklahoma City last week. They also illustrated the economic issues linked to the emotional debate over abortion sweeping the nation.

Recognizing the likelihood that abortion will be virtually banned in Oklahoma if the United States Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade, the two young women considered leaving the state to build their lives elsewhere.

“Why don’t I just go to New Mexico?” Said Alana Westfall, who is training to be a nurse practitioner. “Oklahoma refuses to give nurse practitioners the right to practice independently, and on top of that, they will make matters worse for access to abortion, which is access to health care. It’s like, why the hell would someone who is developing a career want to stay here, especially when my husband has such a volatile career in oil and gas? They also have oil and gas in New Mexico.

“I’m having my second daughter,” Westfall added. “Why on earth would I want to keep her in an environment, considering God knows how long this could last, in a culture that thinks abortion care is not health care?” “

The US Air Force has Anna Artz stationed in Oklahoma and, “As soon as I get out of the Air Force, I move somewhere where there are rights,” she said.

Oklahoma officials have cited their religious beliefs in their efforts to reduce or eliminate abortions in the state. However, these efforts are having a huge impact on the local economy, court records in the Mississippi case currently before the United States Supreme Court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The records in the case presented arguments as to whether or not there is a “causal link between the availability of abortion and the ability of women to act in society” and whether access to it. abortion affected “the ability of women to participate equally in economic life.” and the social life of the nation.

Questions posed by Supreme Court justices during Wednesday’s hearing into the case seem to indicate that the matter may again be left to individual states to decide. Oklahoma is one of a dozen states with laws already in place that would ban abortion in case Roe v. Wade would be canceled. Such a bill was one of nine pro-life pieces of legislation passed in the 2021 session and enacted by Governor Kevin Stitt.

“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that came up on my desk and I’m proud to keep that promise,” Stitt said at a signing ceremony. “As a father of six, it is an honor to be the most pro-life governor in the country, and I will always strive to protect the lives of unborn children.”

Lawmakers who helped draft and advance legislation emphasized their religious beliefs.

“We thank the Lord for the team of people who have worked together to help make this happen, and the multitudes who have prayed for years about it. We also thank the Lord for answered prayer. Glory to God! ”Said Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, one of the sponsors of a bill that would define performing an abortion as“ unprofessional conduct ”for a physician.

“All life is precious and a gift from God,” said Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “The pro-life measures we adopted this year are aimed at ensuring that every life is protected every step of the way in Oklahoma.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked three of those laws, and a district court temporarily blocked two more – including a measure that would ban abortions after six weeks.

Cars honked their support as they passed the two women parked outside Planned Parenthood at 619 NW 23rd Street – just a minute down the road from the Oklahoma State Capitol – with signs in favor of access to abortion Thursday, the day after the debate on the issue. before the Supreme Court of the United States.

“We’re here to show our support for the community, to show them that there are people who will be there for them and to make sure it’s a safe space for people to receive care,” Artz said. Thursday is also the day when several local church groups come to stand outside the clinic, she said.

But last Thursday, only two women stood in front of the clinic. Just across the street was an Image Clear Ultrasound van, offering free testing and ultrasound services.

“Keeping the separation of church and state does not apply to what they do, because in their case it even says” you must tell your lawmakers that they must do their divine work and abolish abortion, ”” Artz said. “So we will be there to counter-protest and let them know that women deserve to have equal access to health care and open access to health care, whatever they decide to do. It is nobody’s business.

Arguments before the Supreme Court on Wednesday revolved around whether access to abortion had a significant impact on women’s ability to fully participate in society and the economy.

The state of Mississippi argued that there is no conclusive evidence to show that women benefit economically from increased access to abortion. On the other hand, a group of 154 economists and researchers filed an amicus curiae brief with the tribunal, citing a number of studies which would indicate otherwise.

One cited study found that young women who used legal abortion to delay an unplanned onset of childbearing for one year achieved an 11% increase in their hourly wages later in their careers. Another study cited found that for young women who experienced unintended pregnancies, having access to abortion increased the likelihood of completing college by almost 20 percentage points and the likelihood of accessing an abortion. an occupation of almost 40 percentage points.

Studies have shown that access to abortion has a greater impact on black women, which “fits with historical accounts that before legalization white women were more often able to access services. clandestine abortions through trusted doctors or travel to repeal states, ”the brief said.

“Abortion remains an essential part of reproductive health care and decision-making for women,” the brief said. “Contrary to what Mississippi claims, for large segments of the population, reliable and affordable contraception remains elusive. And for many women, affordable child care is as illusory as employment policies that take into account working parents.


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