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The Devastating Economic Impacts of an Abortion Ban

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Last December, oral arguments were held before the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case leading to the leaked draft opinion last week that, if finalized, would overturn Roe v. Wade. During one especially illuminating moment, Chief Justice John Roberts attempted to draw Julie Rikelman—the litigation director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who was arguing to have a ban on abortions after fifteen weeks in the state of Mississippi overturned—into a back-and-forth about the significance of the cutoff for having access to an abortion . Rikelman made a broader argument, that narrowing women’s access to the procedure could disproportionately harm low-income women or those experiencing personal crises. She turned to numbers to bolster her argument. “In fact,” Rikelman said, “the data has been very clear over the last fifty years that abortion has been critical to women’s equal participation in society. It’s been critical to their health, to their lives, their ability to pursue—”

“I’m sorry, what—what kind of data is that?” Roberts interrupted.

When Rikelman tried to answer, Roberts interrupted again. “Well, putting that data aside,” he said, “why would fifteen weeks be an inappropriate line?” Sign up for The Daily.

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