The Supreme Court voted privately to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a majority opinion first draft obtained by Politico on May 2. The project is not a final decision, but many members of the Elon community have expressed their opinions, fears and support for the majority project.
The draft majority opinion, written by Judge Samuel Alito, could overturn the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Thirteen states already have trigger laws in place that would go into effect immediately if Roe v. Wade was canceled.
Although various bills which restrict access to abortion in North Carolina have passed through the state legislature in recent years, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed all of them. Attempts to override the vetoes failed to win three-fifths of the vote in each chamber.
Maria Mendoza, Senior Honors Fellow, has spent the past two years studying the impact of access to abortion clinics on eviction rates in Texas and Wisconsin. Elon News Network sat down with Mendoza to ask her reaction to the news and what she thinks will happen next.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Can you tell me a bit about your research, in particular your research on abortion and deportation?
“I’ve always been very pro-choice. It’s always been something that since high school, I’ve always been very active on reproductive justice issues. So I really wanted to focus on women’s rights, for some reason. It didn’t have to be reproductive justice in my research.
When I was talking to my mentor, Dr Steven Bednar, he was like, ‘Well, I’ve been researching abortion.’ When he was in undergrad, he was at Berkeley, and he was doing his thesis on abortion at that time, and so I was like, ‘Oh, great.’ We found something in common, and I was going to choose it. And then he also researched the deportations, separately, so he thought, ‘How about we get together? How about coming up with these two topics, bringing a story and trying to tell a story.
With economic research, you have data and you can do a statistical regression to see if there is a connection. I was able to find data on abortion clinics in these two journals that I read, these two other economic journals, and these authors, these researchers were able to send me their data. And then I also got data on evictions from the Princeton Expulsion Laband through that I was able to create a theory of what I would find.
In eviction data, women are more likely to be evicted. In neighborhoods with a large number of children, eviction rates are higher. So through my theory, I could see that if you lose access to abortion, because of clinics closing or something like that, then maybe you’ll have a child that you don’t. don’t wait financially, and it could lead to evictions. That was my theory for my thesis.
I found results that show this. I looked at two states, Texas and Wisconsin. They’re very different demographically, and they’re very different in size, and politically, they’re very different. And I found that in Texas, lack of access to abortion affected deportations a year after clinics closed, and then in Wisconsin, I found nothing statistically significant.
Could you tell me a bit about your discoveries in Texas and what seemed most important to you?
“The reason I think only Texas was statistically significant is because I was looking at that time, House Bill 2 in Texas. This law was passed and closed almost half of the clinics. So originally, in 2013, there were 41 abortion clinics in Texas, and after this law was passed that placed a bunch of very strict restrictions on the clinics, half of those clinics closed, and there there was just a very rapid loss of access compared to Wisconsin, which only had five original clinics, and only two of them closed. So it was already a state that had very few clinics. People would usually go to Minnesota or Chicago, which are nearby.
Finding statistically significant results in Texas meant more because there was such a big change and what happened…20 clinics are closing.
What I found was, as I mentioned before, congestion. When more women have to visit a clinic than before, this is the variable that I found to be statistically significant. So, as more and more women started coming to the remaining clinics, the eviction rates went up, and that’s what I found statistically significant.
Given that you are passionate about reproductive justice and have researched it, what was your reaction to last night’s news about Roe v. Wade?
“Certainly very disheartening. I kind of saw that coming, since Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and they had to replace her, and the majority of Supreme Court justices gravitated more conservatively. I knew it would happen.
And just researching what’s going on in different states, like two weeks ago, I think, Oklahoma passed a law that…if you offer an abortion, you could be sent to jail for 10 years… it was the strictest restriction on abortion to date.
I know a lot of states are considering taking that right away, so the fact that now the Supreme Court, the majority of them, is voting against it, so obviously it’s very disheartening, and it’s very sad.
Do you think that if Roe v. Wade is knocked down, will there be impacts similar to what you’ve seen in your research across the country?
“When I was looking at my research, my specific variables for abortion access were distance – so how far a clinic got from you once the closest ones closed – and then also congestion, which means if a few clinics close near you, and there are just fewer clinics, so more women will try to go to those clinics Longer waiting times will occur People cannot get appointments you, and they may be passing the first trimester, and it’s no longer legal in those specific states.
But now, I don’t know if you’ve seen the maps of the states that would strike down abortion if the Supreme Court struck it down, and that’s kind of scary because they’re all kind of clustered in the South. All of those women in those areas can’t make it to California or New York or Washington State, so I think that’s definitely going to impact not just the deportations — the deportations were just something I was excited about. But you can watch anything. Educational level. If a teenage mother becomes pregnant, she may not be able to complete high school. There are so many other things, bankruptcy, bad credit, so many things in the economy that could go wrong if you don’t have access to abortion.
I certainly wouldn’t have thought about the economic impact of access to abortion, it’s really interesting. As Elon’s students try to figure out what to do next, what do you think they can do?
“I thought about all that today. But I just think I’m able to be very educated and help people be educated. We are very privileged to be in a school and to have economic opportunities. So if we got pregnant, we would have other resources to turn to. Maybe we could fly to California, if we needed to, but I really think about educating ourselves and other women.
Something that is going to be really important in the future… sex ed is going to have to be such a big boost in the future if Roe v. Wade is cancelled, so abortion won’t be accessible to people, so people have to think ahead. I think in the future, just if this were to be reversed, we need to focus on how to educate women in their reproductive lives.
What would you say to a student of Elon who may not know much about this problem?
“As you mentioned, you never thought about the economic consequences that could come from losing access to abortion.
I think it’s obvious, we know what happens when we don’t have access to abortion. You will have to continue a pregnancy. You may be able to give the baby up for adoption, but that’s not always possible.
There are other things that come with being pregnant and having a child that you never expected. Your whole life changes. It is a very permanent decision and economically, as I said, you could be pushed back on your future future.
I definitely think it’s enough to think outside the box, not just know that “Oh, no abortion, no access to abortion means no abortion”. No, there are so many other things economically and socially that affect things. Be educated, and again know what your rights are, if you live in a state that offers abortion and will continue to do so, just know that and how to help others.