WASHINGTON — Latest restrictions on abortion access would burden the economy, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Tuesday.
“Eliminating the suitable of girls to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back a long time,” Yellen testified in front of the Senate Banking Committee.
A leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court revealed last week that the justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 precedent that legalized abortion nationwide. The court confirmed the authenticity of the opinion but said it’s not final.
Yellen’s testimony offered a reminder that overturning Roe would have massive consequences for people’s lives — and, by extension, the U.S. economy.
“Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, helped result in increased labor force participation and enabled many ladies to complete school. That increased their earning potential,” Yellen said in response to an issue from Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “It allowed women to plan and balance their families and careers. And research also shows that it has a positive impact on the well-being and earnings of youngsters.”
“One aspect of the satisfying life is with the ability to feel that you will have the financial resources to boost a baby, that the youngsters you bring into the world are wanted, and you will have the power to care for them.”
– Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
If the court ultimately does abandon its precedents on abortion, it could upset the course of midterm elections that Republicans have been heavily favored to win.
If finalized, the court’s opinion wouldn’t itself ban abortion, however it would allow states to accomplish that. Twenty-six Republican-led states are certain or prone to outlaw abortion if the court overturns Roe, based on the Guttmacher Institute, including 13 states which have “trigger” laws designed to take effect as soon because the court allows. Abortion would remain legal in other states.
“There are various research studies which have been done over time taking a look at the economic impacts of access, or lack thereof, to abortion,” Yellen said. “It makes clear that denying women access to abortion increases their odds of living in poverty or need for public assistance.”
A 2021 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, as an example, found that abortion restrictions subtract $105 billion annually from the economy “by reducing women’s labor force participation and earnings and increasing turnover and time without work from work amongst women ages 15 to 44 years.” Overall gross domestic product is greater than $24 trillion.
Participating within the labor force means working or in search of work. The gap in participation between ladies and men narrowed dramatically in the course of the twentieth century, but gains for girls slowed in the course of the Nineteen Nineties. Participation rates for moms of young children are lower than overall rates for staff between the ages of 25 and 54.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said he found Yellen’s comments troubling.
“I feel people can disagree on the problem of being pro-life or pro-abortion, but ultimately, I feel framing it within the context of labor force participation — it just feels callous to me,” Scott said.
Yellen responded that she didn’t mean to sound harsh, but that reduced labor force participation is the spillover effect from not allowing women to manage their bodies.
“What we’re talking about is whether or not or not women may have the power to manage their reproductive situation in ways that may enable them to plan lives which are fulfilling and satisfying for them,” she said. “And one aspect of the satisfying life is with the ability to feel that you will have the financial resources to boost a baby, that the youngsters you bring into the world are wanted, and you will have the power to care for them.”