Indiana Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023

Publication Citation

98 Indiana Law Journal 1089 (2023)


In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court upheld a Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy and overruled the holding in Roe v. Wade. Among the many arguments raised in Dobbs in an attempt to overturn Roe, the State of Mississippi argued that due to “the march of progress” in women’s role in society, abortion rights are no longer necessary for women to participate equally in economic life. It has also been argued that there is no empirical support to the relationship between abortion rights and women’s economic success in society. This Article will empirically examine both of these arguments, and it provides compelling evidence to reject each of them. To do so, we adopt a novel methodology that utilizes the enforcement of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws as proxies for abortion restrictions. We study the effects of over forty years of legislation on the participation of American women in the labor market. Our findings suggest that the introduction of TRAP laws has widened the gender pay gap between women of childbearing age and the rest of the population. Our analysis offers two potential explanations regarding the mechanisms based on which TRAP laws widen this gap: they push women out of the labor force and into choosing lower-paying jobs. Ultimately, these findings foreshadow the future landscape of gender inequality in the United States in the post-Roe era.