Pandemic – Has U.S. women re-thinking plans for motherhood?

Pandemic – Has U.S. women re-thinking plans for motherhood?

NEW YORK, June 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A third of U.S. women want to postpone pregnancy or have fewer children because of the coronavirus, a change of plans more prevalent among Black women whose communities have been among the hardest hit, research showed on Wednesday. About 44% of Black women and 48% of Latina women said the virus has made them want fewer children and later, compared with 28% of white women, found research by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and policy organization.

The broad hesitation among women about having children post-pandemic reflects the impact of sweeping unemployment, loss of health insurance, recession, job uncertainty and the unsteady pace of economic recovery, it said.

Women who said they were financially worse off in April than a year earlier were among those more likely than others to want to delay childbearing or have fewer children, it said.

Women, especially Black women, have lost more jobs than men have during coronavirus shutdowns.

“COVID-19 really had a ripple effect. The women who were particularly impacted by it are the same groups that already bear the brunt of existing inequalities,” said Laura Lindberg, the report’s lead researcher and principal research scientist at Guttmacher.

“These are also the same groups who are more likely to say that because of the pandemic, they want to delay or reduce having a child right now,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The full effects are still unfolding, she added.

“We’re going to see an ongoing and increasing impact, particularly if the economic situation in the U.S. remains uncertain,” she said.

In May, the U.S. jobless rate among men was 11.6%, but 13.9% among women and 16.8% among Blacks.

Also the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact in Black communities, and Black people are getting and dying of COVID-19 at high rates than white people, data shows.

Guttmacher’s research also found 46% of queer women were likely to have changed their fertility preferences because of the pandemic, compared with 33% of straight women, and 17% of women overall wanted to have a child sooner or wanted to have more children as a consequence.

The pandemic is not the first large-scale disruption to have such an impact, the study said, noting that U.S. fertility rates declined during the 2008 recession.

The analysis was based on a nationwide online survey conducted by Guttmacher in the week of April 30 to May 6 among about 2,000 women aged 18 to 49.


(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly.)

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