Even as Congress marched forward with billions of dollars towards Democratic priorities like healthcare and climate spending, one issue remained untouched: America's patchwork childcare system — something that's been thrown into even greater relief with the overthrowing of Roe v. Wade opening up new restrictions on abortion across the country.
A new paper from Joana Duran-Franch and Ira Regmi from the left-leaning think tank the Roosevelt Institute finds that states with more restrictions on abortion access tend to have weaker pro-family policies, and less support for parents of young children.
At the same time, their research highlights that "family-friendly policies at the state level demonstrate a significant bearing on mothers' labor-market choices."
The states with the most support for families are also more likely to protect reproductive rights — meaning that states where mothers and other caretakers have the least support are also the ones where they tend to have the most limited reproductive access.
"It is the same states that are the most restrictive on abortion rights that have least coverage of friendly policies," Regmi said. "The growing misapplication of child welfare policies as a really horrible excuse to trample on people's reproductive rights — they're antithetical to each other. It is even obvious in the data and the actions that these states themselves are taking."
Some states have higher coverage in family-friendly policies, and the Roosevelt Institute researchers put together an index of family-friendly policies "given by the average between the value of parental leave and the value of pre-K spending per child." The following map of their findings highlight the differences in family-friendly policies across the country.
According to the paper, DC ranked number 1 for its family-friendly policies index (FFPI). California, New York, and Washington are three states that had high coverage.
Mississippi ranked 42nd for its family-friendly policies, and is considered to be in the "most restrictive" category for abortion rights per the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights think tank. Washington, on the other end of the spectrum, has strong family-friendly policies, ranking third. Additionally, Washington's abortion policies are considered "protective" according to Guttmacher Institute.
Abortion policy restrictions can be seen on Guttmacher Institute's map. That includes seven different levels of restriction from most restrictive to most protective. The following map shows what abortion policy restrictions look like in each state and DC as of the most recent update. Notably, the most restrictive states also fall into either Roosevelt Institute's lowest category or medium-coverage category for family-friendly policies:
Abortion bans constrain economic options for women, and family-friendly policy can make it easier to work
"For pre-K spending, there's some states that spend thousands of dollars per child each year, and some others that have absolutely nothing in place to help these kids," Duran-Franch told Insider.
It's no secret that the pandemic pushed many mothers out of the labor force, as in-person childcare options and schools shuttered. Before the pandemic, for instance, people in states with less childcare coverage may have relied on "more informal methods, where your parent would take care of your child or neighbors get together, or you rely on the fact that your neighbor can just come and look at your child when you're away," Regmi told Insider.
"All of that just vanished during COVID, which makes the impact of any welfare policy even more important," they said. That's now coupled with more intense restrictions on reproductive access.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade and abortion bans can affect people in different ways — including economically.
"In states with abortion bans people are being denied the ability to determine their families and the trajectory of their lives," Elizabeth Nash, principal policy associate for state issues at Guttmacher Institute, said in a statement to Insider. "The burden of these bans and the impact of forcing people to continue pregnancies will be felt by Black and Brown patients, low-income individuals, young people and LGBTQ individuals."
Regmi said there's a "severe dearth" of data on gender and sexuality, making it difficult to gauge the impact on queer, trans, and nonbinary parents, but "intuitively, we know that marginalized families are going to be even more affected by these restrictions, whether it's lack of child welfare policies or whether it's restrictions and abortions."
"Forcing people to have children they weren't intending will have generational impacts on these families," Nash said. "And we are not seeing these states put in place the supports necessary to ensure that the patients receive proper pregnancy and health care and that families have the resources they need."