For many people, especially biologically female individuals, the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade brought about uncertainty and annoyance. It seemed that in a changing world (that is not always changing for the better) women are again, in terms that do not at all fully express the damaging effects of this decision, being put on the back burner. What is rarely discussed in the context of the Supreme Court’s decision are the hardships placed upon single parents. Although they are a small part of the big picture of reproductive rights, single parents are a group hardly included both in this debate and, broadly, in many others. Upon further exploration, it was also apparent that single parents are not sufficiently supported by society or the government.
Single parents have been greatly stigmatized in the past and though improvements have been made, there are still so many hardships to being a single parent. A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that 80% of single parents experienced or may have experienced a form of discrimination that negatively affected their mental health, their ability to have a safe workplace or housing, and much more. Indeed, financial hardship and other obstacles often negatively affect the mental well-being of many single parents; a consequence that has a damaging influence of the lives of the parents and children alike. To make matters worse, single parents are not a protected class in the United States. As such, it is harder to fight against some discriminatory actions that make the lives of single parents harder such as having to leave due to childcare conflicts and more. In fact, in 2020 Amazon fired a worker, Caonaissa Won, for bringing her child to work. A firing occurred after Won fought to have a schedule changed to allow her to pick up and drop off her son. Repercussions were faced by the company but this does negate the negative experiences brought on by Amazon’s decisions and that many single parents are not afforded the same justice.
Having single parents be a legally protected class would also improve in benefiting those who face intersectional discrimination. Single mothers are already more likely to have lower total income and higher poverty status. The discrimination single mothers face is compounded if they are also a person of color. Circling back to the perspective of Roe v. Wade, the politicians and lobbyists who repealed this decision should provide more security to single parents, especially the single mothers from whom they have taken reproductive rights. Not providing these resources and this stability is not only unjust but also incredibly malignant.
This is not at all to take away from the capability and strength of single parents; instead, such protections will ensure that they do not face hardships for circumstances that are beyond their control — a surety that should indeed be granted to every individual.
Opponents of Roe v. Wade, especially those on the Supreme Court, have made a decision with disastrous consequences for numerous groups, including single parents. Should this decision remain, they must take action to provide resources, stability, and venues for justice for all those that will be affected and harmed. For single parents, being included as a protected class may be a start. Employers should make an effort to hire single parents and provide flexibility. As a society, we should further explore all groups affected by the repeal of Roe v. Wade and how to assist them.