It “is impossible to claim that abortion access is specially responsible for the progress that American women have made in any of the above arenas,” the brief states, “as compared with the massive array of statutes and cases described above and women’s vigorous pursuit of the opportunities they provide.”
2. There is no consistent correlation between abortion and women’s socioeconomic success.
The women scholars acknowledge that women made progress immediately after Roe, as abortion rates and ratios rose. But, they emphasize, this progress began decades before Roe and “continued when abortion rates and ratios were falling at a dramatic pace.”
Between 1990 and 2016, the scholars say, abortion rates declined 46% and abortion ratios fell 52%. But women’s progress didn’t slow down. Instead, it continued to accelerate.
The “percentage of women in the workforce with a college degree or more rose from 24.5% to 41.6%,” the brief states. Women also earned an increasing percentage of men’s income: 15.5%.
Women-owned businesses also skyrocketed. According to the Census Bureau’s economic census, 5.4 million women-owned businesses existed in 1997. Twenty years later, in 2017, women owned 11.1 million businesses, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners.
In higher education, women’s participation grew. Their college enrollment climbed nearly 4%. At the same time, women’s law school enrollment increased from 47.4% in 1990 to 52% in 2016, and the number of women in medical schools rose from 39.2% in 1990 to 49.8% in 2016.
Women also continued to succeed in government. Women in state government increased by 41%. At the federal level, women’s representation increased 248%. On the federal bench, women’s participation increased 380%. In the video clip below, Erika Bachiochi, one of the women legal scholars who co-authored the Dobbs brief, explains how abortion came to be associated with the feminist movement.
3. The evidence shows abortion disadvantages women.
The women scholars argue that “relatively easy access to abortion has changed society in several ways disadvantageous to women.”
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Citing Phillip Levine, a Wellesley College economics professor and research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research, the women scholars write that “easy access to abortion tends to change sexual behavior in favor of greater sexual risk-taking, which disincentivizes contraceptive use and leads to more uncommitted sexual relations.”
This behavior disproportionately impacts women, the scholars maintain. Abortion, in particular, severs “sex from any idea of a joint future” and establishes “nonmarital sex as the price of a romantic relationship, even as women continue to report that this new sex ethic is undesirable to them, and that many are having fewer children than they would like.”
A 2018 analysis of fertility data by economist Lyman Stone published in the New York Times, lends support to their argument. Stone observed that "the gap between the number of children that women say they want to have (2.7) and the number of children they will probably actually have (1.8) has risen to the highest level in 40 years."
Because abortion enables the idea that children are a woman’s “choice,” children are viewed as being a woman’s responsibility, the brief states. With this in mind, the scholars warn, the “connection between sex and potential fatherhood … has grown far more tenuous, contributing to the feminization of poverty we see today.”
Research from Brookings Institution scholar Isabel Sawhill supports their findings. She found in 1999 that the “growth of single parent families can account for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since 1970.”
Abortion also gives society a facile remedy to the complex challenges women continue to face in society, the scholars argue.