Respect Equality

States with access to abortion care have lower gender pay gap: report

New York, Vermont and California have the most narrow pay gap and have also expanded abortion access this year.

Story at a glance

  •  A new study from MoneyGeek found that the average annual income and the median annual income for women is more often lower than men in states where abortion care is illegal or restricted.  

  • The MoneyGeek study underscores previous research claiming that abortion access has a profound impact on the economic lives of women.  

  • The states with the greatest gender pay gap include Wyoming, Utah and Mississippi, where abortion is now illegal, according to the study.  

The gender pay gap has remained stable over the past 15 years, with women earning about 84 percent of what men earn. 

But a new study from the personal finance company MoneyGeek found that the pay gap between women and men tends to be lower in states with more accessible abortion care and higher in states with restricted or banned abortion care.  

The five states with the greatest gender pay gap — Wyoming, Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi and Idaho — are also where access to abortion is either restricted or, in the case of Mississippi, outright illegal, according to the study. 

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In Wyoming — the state with the largest pay gap — the median income is $40,574, and women on average earn about 65 cents to every dollar earned by men.  

Abortion is still legal in Wyoming, while a lawsuit that contests a ban on the procedure moves forward.  

Gov. Mark Gordon (R) signed a “trigger ban” in March, written to take effect if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which it did this summer. The law criminalizes abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life, “not including any psychological or emotional conditions.” 

Health care providers who violate the ban would be charged with a felony and could face up to 14 years of prison time under the law.  

In August, a Wyoming judge temporarily blocked the legislation, pausing the ban.  

Utah, Louisiana and Idaho have restricted access to abortion care and women make about 69 cents, 73 cents and 75 cents to the dollar compared to men, respectively, according to the study.  

Women in Mississippi, where the state government is currently enforcing its trigger ban, on average make about 73 cents for every dollar that male residents earn.  

The MoneyGeek study underscores other research showing that abortion access is strongly linked to women’s financial wellbeing. Last year, The Brookings Institution released an analysis that found access to abortion “profoundly” affects the economic lives of women by determining if and when they become mothers.  

The five states with the narrowest gender pay gap are Vermont (89.6 cents), New York (88.4 cents), Nevada (86.5 cents ), Alaska (86.2 cents) and California (85.5 cents).

Three of those states, Vermont, New York and California, expanded access to abortion care after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) declared the state as a “safe harbor” for people trying to access an abortion. Hochul also announced that she would allocate $35 million to abortion providers to help clinics manage the expected influx of patients stemming from the overturning of Roe.  

Those funds were distributed in two parts. The governor directed the New York Department of Health to allot $25 million into an Abortion Services Provider Fund and ordered the state to put aside $10 million in security grants for reproductive health centers.  

California has followed suit, with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also recently proclaiming the state as an abortion safe haven. California lawmakers passed a slew of bills to protect and expand abortion care access.  

Those bills include legislation that would ensure no one in the state would be investigated, prosecuted or incarcerated for terminating a pregnancy or suffering a miscarriage and bar professional boards from suspending licenses of those who administer legal abortion care in California and other states.  

In Alaska and Nevada, abortion rights are protected. In 1990, Arizona residents passed a referendum protecting the state’s law legalizing abortion, and in Alaska’s highest court recognized the right to reproductive choice under the state’s constitution, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.