WASHINGTON, July 1, 2022 – The Alliance for Aging Research’s (Alliance) President and CEO Susan Peschin, MHS, has released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade:
All of us at the Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) believe that independence, dignity, and equity are essential to healthy aging. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to eliminate federal protections for abortion services, politicizes access to healthcare and deals significant blows to healthy aging and health equity.
We, as an aging organization, feel compelled to speak out for a number of reasons:
- Social and economic inequality throughout the life-course is closely linked to disparities in healthy aging. According to the United Nations (UN) Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030) disadvantages in health, education, employment and earning start early, reinforce each other, and accumulate over our lifetimes.
- This decision will disproportionately harm low-income women and women of color, in many cases gravely. One study estimates that a total nationwide ban of abortion would result in a 21% increase in pregnancy-related mortality across the country, and it would be even worse for women of color, with a 33% rise in deaths. Everyone should have a fair chance to experience healthy aging and live to older age—no matter their race, ethnicity, income, or geographic location.
- Our health as we age is impacted by access to high-quality healthcare throughout the lifespan. The ruling will exacerbate existing disparities to accessing quality health care for low-income women beyond childbearing years and into older age. Of the 13 states that have an immediate trigger law to ban or restrict abortion, eight states have poverty rates higher than the national average and rank number 38 or lower in overall senior health according to America’s Health Rankings Senior Report 2022.
- Restricting access to abortion will inevitably lead to an increased burden on grandparents to provide for basic needs and serve as caregivers. According to the 2021 Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (SGRG) Act Initial Report to Congress, there are already at least 2.7 million children in the U.S. being raised in the homes of grandparents and almost half of children living in “grandmother-only” households live in poverty with little to no access to public financial support programs.
Supporting healthy aging means committing to the creation of environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Reproductive health equity is essential to giving a fair chance at healthy aging. The politicization of an issue that impacts access to healthcare not only diminishes how we value women, but how we value each other as a collective society.