The Business of Abortion: Access to Capital Post Dobbs


Access to credit—that is, the ability to receive financial leverage that could help jump-start businesses—is one of the most significant barriers preventing millions of American women from opening new businesses. Congress has attempted to address this issue since the 1970s, with legislation like the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Nevertheless, studies continue to show a persistent gender gap in access to credit. Scholars have offered a host of explanations for this gap, focusing on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

This Article contributes to this growing scholarly exploration by offering a new, overlooked explanation for this gap: namely, it links access to reproductive care—particularly the right to abortion—with access to credit. To investigate this connection, this Article adopts a three-stage novel empirical methodology that utilizes the enactment of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (“TRAP Laws”) as proxies for abortion restrictions. We find consistent evidence that restrictions on access to reproductive care reduce women’s ability to raise capital and leverage their business endeavors. As such, these restrictions widen the gender gap in entrepreneurship and diminish potential economic growth.

This Article thus explores an impact that seems to have slipped under the radar of scholars and policymakers evaluating the negative impact of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on women’s equality. Given the potential expansion of abortion restrictions across the nation, these findings are particularly noteworthy.

Legislative efforts, like the ECOA, are insufficient to overcome the additional barriers that laws restricting access to reproductive rights create. Accordingly, to overcome the gender gap in access to credit, legislative and policy efforts must address more deeply entrenched discriminatory patterns and cultural norms. This Article proposes three modes of action that could potentially mitigate the devastating effects on women’s equal participation in the economy in a post-Dobbs era: (1) government-led action; (2) civil society-led efforts; and (3) business owners-led initiatives.





This document is currently not available here.