This month, McCourt Professor Adriana Kugler and her colleagues published a new report with the Center for American Progress, reinforcing earlier findings that reproductive healthcare access increases economic opportunity for women.

“Being able to guarantee and expect control over one’s body, including reproductive decisions, is a necessary condition of the ability to fully engage in the labor market and face a lower likelihood of financial precarity,” the report reveals.

Access to Opportunity Varies Between States

Kugler and her team explored the correlation between positive and negative indicators for access by state, and the economic conditions facing women and men in those states. She found that women have better economic outcomes in states that have greater access to reproductive health services.

Additionally, in the states with better healthcare access, women have more economic freedom to make choices about whether to change their occupation or employment status.

The Policy Implications

The policy implications of this study are especially significant considering the effort to repeal various provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Kugler’s report argues that both the ACA and Medicaid expansion have been crucial to giving women access to a full range of services that have benefited their economic outcomes.

“The ACA has been instrumental in increasing access to reproductive health services for women by making these services more affordable,” the report found. As a result of the ACA, 9.5 million women gained health insurance coverage and fewer women report that they delay or went without care due to cost.

A Call to Action

Kugler argues that in addition to giving women more control over their bodies and their health, policymakers should work to expand women’s opportunities in other ways, including raising the minimum wage, addressing the wage gap, guaranteeing workers paid medical leave and supporting affordable access to child care.

“Just as reproductive rights and health care access should not be siloed as a separate women’s issue and an afterthought in this country’s political debate, Americans must also recognize that a comprehensive agenda for women’s equality must include reinforcing the link between reproductive justice and economic opportunity,” the report concludes.