fb-pixel Skip to main content

Back to days when a woman’s quality of life depended on where in US she lived

Graduation at Wellesley College on May 30, 2008.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/file

Re “Could the end of Roe v. Wade boost the Mass. economy? That depends” (Business, June 30): Reading Governor Baker’s prediction that businesses will relocate to Massachusetts because of difficulties in recruiting talented people to states that criminalize abortion and enact other repressive laws, I was reminded of my last economics class as a senior at Wellesley College more than 50 years ago.

In that class, our distinguished professor (female) talked to us about what life might be like for educated, ambitious young women depending on the state they chose to live in. Reproductive rights weren’t mentioned since, at that time, we didn’t have that anywhere in the country. But in many states, we didn’t have many other rights either. The common law concept of coverture (where a married woman loses her independence as her status becomes merged with her husband) still existed, or its principles were embedded in state laws under other names. If we married, we no longer legally existed. The proverbial “man and wife” was represented by the husband. Even if single with decent income, we couldn’t get a loan to start a business or buy a home. A man had to sign for us. We had no control over our assets.


That class was a watershed, and many of us made our job decisions accordingly. As much as my parents wanted me with them in Texas, I took a job in Massachusetts. Here I still am.

While the laws improved, those attitudes never disappeared and are returning with a vengeance. Now it seems our young women setting out on their adult lives will have to hear those old lectures about where to live or not, and updated only a bit. Alas.

Lyn Tatum Christiansen


The writer has a doctorate in business administration.