In thispaper, I will discuss the history of abortion and how this medical procedurerelates to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and income. I will usedifferent articles that study abortion as they relate to race, class, andsocioeconomic status through the decades of the 1960s into the 2010s. In 1969 NormaMcCorvey, a 21-year-old found that shewas pregnant with her third child. Upon learning this, she went to Dallas,Texas and tried to claim she was raped to obtain a legal abortion. However,because there was no police report of a rape, she was refused the abortion soshe tried an illegal abortion. When she discovered the illegal abortion facilityhad been closed down, she had no other choice than to have the baby.
In 1970McCorvey, under the alias Jane Roe, hired Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington tofile a lawsuit against the United States District Court for the NorthernDistrict of Texas. On June 17, 1970, the panel of the District Court of Texas,unanimously declared that the Texas law on abortion was unconstitutional inthat it violated the right to privacy declared by the 9th Amendment.On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case of Roe VS Wade and ruled at 7-2 that undulyrestrictions by state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional and statescannot prohibit abortions as it goes against the Constitutions first, fourth,ninth, and fourteenth amendment rights. These rights cover a broad “zone ofprivacy” that encompasses a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy due to themyriad physical, economic, and physiological stresses on a woman (McBride,2006).
However, the U.S. Supreme Court did say that states can regulateabortion in the second trimester and prohibit in the third trimester. Even withthis historical decision, it does not require states to provide abortionservices to the people (Brown, Jewell, Rous, 2001). Webster vs Reproductive Health Services of 1989 signified to statesthat they could regulate abortions so long as it did not impose on a females”undue burden” to receive an abortion.
This officially changes the abortiondebate from a federal level to a state level (Medoff, 2002). When the social sciences first started studying abortionthey used numerical data and put them into tables according to age, maritalstatus, and race. Medoff (2002), using 1982 cross-section data, was the firstto estimate the impact that Roe VS Wade hadon the demand for abortion. For thisstudy, Medoff (2002), used the abortion rate as the dependent variable, and theprice of an abortion as the independent variable. Using these variables, hefound that abortion is negatively related to price, meaning that Medoffobserved when abortion prices increased, the number of abortions decreased, yetthere was positively related correlation towards income and abortion sayingthat the higher a woman’s income, the more likely they are to have an abortion.Later similar studies conducted by Garbacz (1990), Gohmann and Oshfeldt (1993),and Haas-Wilson (1996) all confirmed these results. It was also discovered that female legislators are more likely to be for women to be pro-choice than menlegislators. In conclusion, Medoff (2002) stats that the National AbortionRights Action League (NARAL) Roman Catholics, and Republicans will have a more anti-abortion stance and try torestrict abortions, whereas female legislators and liberal ideology willincrease the flexibility of a woman’s choice to have an abortion.
Also, hediscovered that women of ages 15 to 44 are more likely to receive an abortionif the state they live in provides Medicaid funding (Medoff, 2002).It seems that Medoff came to the conclusions of his studyusing very thorough methods, equations,and variables. However, it fails tomention the number of people he studied and wherethey were from. This is an issue in the case that we cannot base this study offof statistics because we do not know if he studied hundreds or thousands ofwomen for his research. Therefore he doesnot have the ability to show any percentages or how he came up with the numbersin his Abortion Restrictiveness Index. After July 1970, New York made it legal for abortions onlyif a woman could transport herself to the state (Deyak, 1976). In Deyak’s(1976) study, they used the maximum capacity of the budget and time constraintsto measure the cost of receiving an abortion in New York.
For this study, they assumed that medical costs and timecosts are the same throughout the state and focused primarily on the cost oftraveling to the abortion clinic, from one of the other 47 continental states. Throughthis, they estimated a “demand function”for legal abortions by measuring mileage at 5.5¢ per mile.
They compared thenumber of women coming to Buffalo or Westchester, New York compared to thenumber of pregnant women who were already located in those areas of New York during1971 (Deyak, 1976). In general, theresults show that the farther away someone’s home state is, the less likelythey are to travel there, and in the reverse case where the closer a state isto New York, the more women sought out anabortion in New York (Deyak, 1976). Overall I fellthat Deyak (1976) had a very comprehensive study and article. All the thoughtsused to create the model were meticulously stated and the results were clearlyshown. He also made it clear that these findings did not measure the benefits oflegal abortion, simply measuring distances and cost associated with travelingfor abortions. However, just like Medoff (1988), there is nothing about how many people came from which state and how manypeople in all.
This again makes it hard for percentages and comparisons to bedone to the fullest extent. King et al. (1992) note that abortion has become amajor political and societal issue in the United States. Since the decision on Roe VS Wade, an increase in young women having legal abortions has been observed.From 1973 to 1985, there was a measured increase of 167,000 abortions performedon women ages 15 to 19. They focus on teenagers for two main reasons, one therate of abortion for this group has significantly increased, and two teenagewomen view the world much differently than fully mature women do in terms ofgoals, and what is important. For their study, King et al.
(1992) used amodified economic theory of demand to hypothesis the future rate of abortion.Due to the economic theory directly correlating price to use, they had tomodify it as public and private funds can influence the price of an abortionfor each individual. With this, they used the following variables in their equation:predicted hourly wage, local unemployment rate, family income, poverty, schoolenrollment, age, the frequency of attending religious services, and a racial characteristicof either African American or Hispanic. This study concluded that on average,young women who aborted their pregnancy had about the same predicted wages,lived in a local labor market with lower unemployment rates, had considerablyhigher other family income. These women also had correspondingly lower rates offamily poverty and were more likely to be enrolled in college, were in the sameage group, and attended religious services less often than others. These womenwere less likely to be African American. According to a 1984 study by (King etal. 1992), a black single 19-year-oldwith women with an expected wage of $3.
50 has about a 2% probability ofaborting. However, this probability increases 27 times to 54% when her wage wouldincrease to $7.50 and she was able to move out of poverty. When observing thesame wages for Hispanics the probability goes from 3% to 63%, while thelikelihood of a white woman increases from 8% to 78% (King et al. 1992).This study hasmany variables making it possible for more comparisons to be made betweenabortion and what factors affect it. The small demographic is also beneficial onaccount that the variables are more fixated and therefore more accurate.
Despitethe variables presented, it should be noted that the income of a 15-year-old isa limiting factor to the results as federal law states a 15-year-old cannotwork more than 3 hours a week. Another issue I found was that there werevariables for Hispanics and blacks, but no variable for whites. This is anissue when Kings et al. (1992) mentions whites in the results. The lack of the variablefor whites causes a disconnection with the results shown.