Singles say Roe v. Wade overturning has impacted their sex lives, study finds

A new study says Roe v. Wade's overturning is impacting singles' sex lives. (Photo: Getty)
A new study says Roe v. Wade's overturning is impacting singles' sex lives. (Photo: Getty)

It was less than six months ago that the conservative-led Supreme Court decided to overturn the decision of Roe v. Wade, which had protected abortion rights across the United States since its landmark ruling in 1973. The decision changed what had been the law of the land for nearly 50 years, and led to 13 states nearly or totally banning abortion upon its ruling. Yet it’s more than just pregnant individuals who are impacted by the ruling — according to a new study, many single people are now taking a long, hard look at their dating lives.

Match’s 12th annual study of the single population in the United States, which surveyed more than 5,000 singles, found that nearly eight in 10 singles have stated that the Roe v. Wade decision has impacted their dating lives. Per the report, two out of three single women will not date someone with opposing views on abortion, while 13% of active daters say that the decision has made them “hesitant” to date. Overall, 78% of these individuals say that the rolling back of reproductive rights has greatly impacted their sex lives.

It makes sense why having less choice may lead people to think more critically about who they date, and, just as importantly, who they have sexual intercourse with, says Helen Fisher, one of Match’s scientific advisors and a biological anthropologist who conducted the study alongside Justin Garcia.

“A woman’s desire to build her family the way she wants to do so is…never going to change,” Fisher notes of the study’s findings. “I think that is what you saw in this midterm elections — this is at the very core of what a woman is, and a man, too. Your ability to decide when you are going to have a family is so primary to the human brain.”

Gary Brown, a relationship therapist in Los Angeles who did not work on the study, tells Yahoo Life that he, too, has spoken with individuals who say they are rethinking their relationships in the wake of Roe v. Wade.

“I’ve talked to a number of women, and particularly in states where they're implementing new abortion laws, they have said to me, ‘I have to be a lot more careful.’ Some of their male partners have actually felt the same way and asked, ‘Hey, what are we doing about conception? How do we feel about that? Maybe we should have more protected sex.’ I think there is some silver lining here because [these conversations] could wind up preventing unwanted pregnancies. But, I think a lot of women in particular — because they're the ones who carry — are obviously horrified and terrified.”

Brown points out that it’s more important than ever for people who are having sex to have open conversations about how they are preventing pregnancy — as well as what they would do should an unwanted pregnancy occur.

“I think you have to ask yourselves, ‘Do we have an agreement on what we want to do if there's an unplanned pregnancy? Do we want to have the baby, or are we not going to have the baby? If we decided to terminate the pregnancy, can we afford to go to another state? Do we have the resources to do that?’ And of course, consensual sex becomes even more important than ever now,” he explains. “Certainly, if you’re living in a state like California, you still have as many freedoms — if not more freedoms — than one had under Roe v. Wade. If you live in Alabama, that's a different story. I really recommend that individuals and sexual partners ask themselves honestly, ‘What is our assessment of risk? What risk are we willing to take in terms of protected or unprotected sex?’”

Beyond abortion, study co-author Garcia, executive director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and scientific advisor at Match, noted in a press release that "singles are no longer shy about their political and cultural views, with a range of issues that are impacting their sense of security in all aspects of life." This statement aligns with the findings that 58% of respondents said it's a deal breaker if a potential partner isn't open-minded on key political issues and that having a political opinion, even if it's contradictory, is increasingly important to singles. 31% say not having an opinion on key issues is a dealbreaker, up from 16% in 2017. Garcia added that "today's singles are demanding a new era of socially responsible dating."

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