“Let the states decide” coming from states dependent on the federal government

Updated: May 23

"Let the states decide" is a phrase that has seen a recent uptick in popularity after the leak revealing the Supreme Court in the United States is set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Such a phrase brings back bloody memories of the U.S. Civil War, as abortion is perhaps the most divisive issue in American politics today. However, almost all states looking to ban abortion are states dragging the country down economically.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 U.S. states are likely to have abortion bans if Roe is overturned. But 23 of them, 88%, have a GDP per capita lower than the national average.

Why is such a stat important? Because it is the ultimate irony. If abortion rights were passed federally, lawmakers in those states would be furious and demand that the matter be left to individual states to decide. However, almost all those states have economic dependence on the federal government.

Only North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska have a GDP per capita higher than the national average, and they are deemed as likely to ban abortion. In fact, 10 of the 11 poorest states are likely to ban abortions.

The abortion issue was re-ignited nationally in 2019 when Alabama passed the "Human Life Protection Act," which would have banned all abortions with no exception for rape or incest. Alabama has a GDP per capita that is almost 30% lower than the national average.

Yesterday, the controversy exploded again, with Oklahoma set to pass a bill that would ban all abortions as many outlets dubbed it the "harshest abortion law in the country." Oklahoma is 25% poorer than the national average.

One of the poorest states in the country, West Virginia, is home to the sole Democrat Senator who voted against the bill to establish abortion rights federally, Joe Manchin. Like Alabama, West Virginia is also about 30% poorer than the national average.

Only 16 out of 50 states (32%), plus D.C., have laws protecting abortion rights. If Colorado & New Mexico (two states fully controlled by Democrats) pass abortion rights laws, the states with abortion rights will represent almost half of the nation's economy.

But perhaps more importantly, 7 of the top 8 states in terms of GDP per capita have laws protecting abortion - D.C., New York, Massachusetts, Washington, California, Connecticut and Delaware. Collectively, they have a GDP per capita about 30% higher than the national average.

Such disproportionate economic numbers reinforce the fact that almost every poll on the topic shows over 60% of Americans in support of Roe v. Wade. But in America in 2022, such figures aren't enough to stop the overturning of 50 years of legal precedent by a 5-4 vote.

Only 2 of the votes favouring overturning are justices nominated by a president who won the popular vote. George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, and his son nominated Samuel Alito. The other 3, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, were appointed by Donald Trump.