Roe V. Wade Overturned: Effects on Mental Health and The Workplace

Reading Time: 5 minutes 
Reading Time with Action Items: 45 minutes
  

The decision on June 24, 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade in the United States will not make abortion go away. It will make abortion more inaccessible, particularly for the most marginalized members of society.

This blog post will detail the effects of this decision on mental health and the workplace, and provide action items if your company is wondering how to respond to this decision.   

You’re probably thinking, “Mari, why are you getting political? This is supposed to be a leadership blog.” 

True leaders acknowledge reality and are not afraid to have hard conversations about how politics affects people’s lives. You have to care about how politics affects people if you are to effectively lead them.

Furthermore, truly civil conversations are impossible when a co-worker—or an entire organization–believes that certain groups of people deserve less rights simply based upon their anatomy. It’s one thing to disagree—it’s another thing to say, “You have to do what I do.” 

 If you have been conditioned to ignore politics, ask yourself why.

1. Mental Health Impact

The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers issued a joint statement on June 24, 2022 saying the following: 

“[Abortion] is a very personal decision and will lead to adverse mental health consequences for people seeking to exercise bodily autonomy in making critical decisions related to their own reproductive health. Decades of scientific research have shown that people who are denied abortions are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety, lower life satisfaction and lower self-esteem compared with those who are able to obtain abortion services.

Research also demonstrates a strong relationship between unwanted pregnancy and interpersonal violence. Specifically, the research suggests that the inability to obtain an abortion increases the risk for domestic abuse among those who are forced to stay in contact with violent partners, putting them and their children at risk.

The impacts of this decision will fall hardest on people who already face discriminatory obstacles to health care—particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, undocumented people, and those having difficulty making ends meet.”

As a therapist working with survivors of domestic violence, this Supreme Court decision has potentially deadly consequences for survivors attempting to leave abusive relationships.  It is important that companies who employ women, non-binary individuals and transgender men be aware of this new reality and provide access to mental and physical health resources that can help keep their workers safe. 

LEADERSHIP QUESTION:

(10 minutes)

How might your company expand access to resources to help keep vulnerable workers safe? 

 
2. Workplace Impact 

If your company is reluctant to discuss social issues out of fear of backlash, your silence may be repelling top talent. 

In their Tara Health Report, PerryUndem “conducted a national survey of…3,464 college—educated adults ages 18 to 64 employed full time in the workforce or looking for full-time work” (p.6). They found that: 

“1. Two-thirds (68%) of top talent say it’s important to them that their company takes a stand on social issues. 

2. Half of top talent (51%) says they’d consider leaving their current job for an employer who has a stronger viewpoint on social issues.” (p.8)

Furthermore, “…a large majority of top talent supports abortion rights and access…[and] consider abortion access an important part of women’s rights and gender equity (80%)” (p. 13)  

Ultimately, it is your company values and mission statement that decide how you should respond—or not respond—in this situation. If you feel uncomfortable looking at your values and mission statement, it might be time to either change or upgrade them to reflect where your company stands now. 

Fear of Backlash is Not a Value 

If you fear backlash, that indicates to me one (or more) of the following issues: 

  1. Your company values are not on a strong foundation. 
  2. Your company has wandered away from their core values. 
  3. Your company has not strongly defined their core values. 
  4. You have not made an action plan for potential backlash. 

Stating—or not stating—your values means stating your company’s boundaries.

When you state your company’s values, you tell the world, “These are the things I find acceptable, and these are the things I will not tolerate.” Some people are not going to like this. 

When my therapy clients fear that others won’t like their boundaries, I ask them, “What is more important than being liked?”  

Similarly, as a company leader, you need to define what is more important to you than the potential backlash you might face. What is more important than potential backlash?   

Here are some things that might be more important:

-Your legacy as a leader. 

-Human rights. 

-The safety of your female, non-binary, and trans male employees. 

-Drawing top talent to your organization.

-Making sure that top talent doesn’t leave.  

Whatever it is, you need to clearly define this before you take a stand–or decide to not take a stand.  

LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS:

(30 minutes) 

  1. Based on my company’s values and mission statement, how might I respond to the situation? 
  2. Do my company values and/or mission statement need to change? Why or why not? 
  3. What is more important than potentially facing backlash? 
  4. What is my company’s plan if we do face backlash?


Stuck on these questions?

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Disclaimer:This blog does not replace in-depth, individualized help from a health professional or provide any diagnosis or treatment. By reading, you understand this statement and commit to seeking psychotherapy or medication support if needed. You also understand that Mari Verano, LLC will not be able to intervene in a crisis or court situation. Please seek your own legal and/or crisis resources.

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