The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ended nearly 50 years of constitutional recognition of a right to abortion. In a moment of unprecedented erosion of freedoms, women also are confronting many economic challenges. Affordable child care, access to paid leave, and access to affordable health care and prescription medication are all issues that disproportionately affect women. As illustrated in the following stories from women in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, when policies support women, the entire country stands to benefit.
Stories from women in Arizona
Stephanie Klein -- Last year, when Stephanie was between jobs, the child tax credit helped to cover her bills and keep her daughter enrolled in a child care program. The high cost and long waitlists at local child care facilities led Stephanie to find affordable care from an in-home provider. Now, Stephanie worries about the upcoming cost of preschool. She wants to set her daughter up for success and enroll her in preschool, but the price—in addition to the cost of care before and after school that Stephanie needs in order to work full time—is too high for her to afford. The expanded child tax credit (CTC) payments from the American Rescue Plan Act were a crucial lifeline for millions of parents. Families used the money to afford rent and pay down debt, and it helped parents such as Stephanie Klein in Phoenix afford child care. When the CTC payments ended at the end of 2021, both lower-income and middle-income families faced financial hardship and difficult decisions. Making the expanded CTC permanent would help parents afford rising child care and preschool costs and remain in the workforce.
Nikki Wall -- Nikki works two jobs to provide for her three children. When Nikki’s landlord raised her rent last year, the monthly child tax credit came just in time to help her afford higher housing costs. In her smaller town, the cost of living has increased drastically while wages have stagnated. But without the monthly child tax credit to rely on, Nikki’s 17-year-old daughter contributes income from her job to help with rent payments.
Tiffany Jarrett -- Tiffany is a full-time working mom providing for her teenage son, who has a thyroid condition that requires regular blood testing and doctor’s appointments. As a contract employee at a local small business, however, Tiffany cannot access any paid leave she must take unpaid time off to attend her son’s doctor’s appointments but often cannot find the time to make up for those lost hours. She has no choice but to put off his doctor’s appointments due to a lack of paid leave, or risk not bringing in the income she needs to cover the cost of her son’s care and their everyday essentials.
Kathy Saulsberry -- When Kathy fell into the Medicare coverage gap last year, she could no longer afford her diabetes medication. Luckily, her doctor had free samples to help Kathy make it through the end of the year. But this isn’t the first time health care costs put Kathy in a bind: More than a decade ago, Kathy developed multiple sclerosis, leaving her unable to work. With mounting bills and no income, she had to move in with family and friends for two years until she could get back on her feet.
“Prescription drug costs make it really difficult to make ends meet on a fixed income.” -- Kathy Saulsberry
Leanna Tsinajinnie -- Leanna’s family lives on the Navajo reservation, where internet connectivity is scarce. When her children’s school went online at the beginning of the pandemic, she had to purchase expensive satellite internet and a laptop for her two school-age children to share. The expanded child tax credit helped her shoulder the cost of her new, pricey internet bill and freed up money in her budget so Leanna could afford to take her insulin as prescribed. When Leanna’s budget is tight, she will skip insulin doses and meals to avoid having to purchase insulin.
Stories from women in Nevada
Anitra Lott -- After seeing her children struggle to find reliable child care during the pandemic, Anitra decided to step away from her duties as an ordained minister and start her own child care business: Kingdom’s Daycare LLC. To help get her business off the ground, Anitra has received assistance from a child care resource center in Las Vegas that was launched with funds from the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan also provided Anitra’s business with several months of operational assistance for payroll.
Kristine Schachinger -- In March 2020, Kristine contracted COVID-19, which soon developed into long COVID, creating new health challenges and exacerbating her Type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Over the following two years, Kristine spent from $15,000 to $17,000 per year between her insurance, treatment, and prescription costs. To reduce the cost of her prescription drugs, Kristine has opted to buy some prescriptions outside of the United States, in Mexico.

Laura Perkins -- When Laura’s children were young, she frequently took them to North Las Vegas libraries, where they developed a love for learning. Soon, she became more involved in the library system, serving on the board of a local nonprofit dedicated to helping North Las Vegas libraries provide more resources to the community. The group’s work helped libraries afford more reliable internet and youth programming. Now, Laura is thrilled that American Rescue Plan funds are going to help fund North Las Vegas libraries.

Vicki Kreidel -- Since Vicki started teaching in the Las Vegas area about 10 years ago, she has progressively been paying more and more out of pocket each year to treat her osteoporosis and several autoimmune disorders. Now, Vicki is paying around $1,500 per treatment for her osteoporosis medication, which requires regular injections. Vicki says many other teachers in the school district—especially colleagues who rely on insulin—have had to leave their jobs to pursue work that includes health insurance that covers more of their prescription costs.

 Las Vegas has a massive teacher shortage, and a big reason why is because we have trouble affording our prescriptions.-- Vicki Kreidel