Finance

Treasury secretary warns of ‘damaging’ economic effects of limiting abortion

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday warned of the potentially damaging effects that curtailing abortion access could have on the country’s economy, as tensions mount nationwide over a recently leaked draft Supreme Court opinion repealing Roe v. Wade.

“I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” Yellen said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

Yellen credited the landmark 1973 decision and consequential increased access to reproductive health care and abortion as instrumental to increased labor force participation nationwide over the years.

“It enabled many women to finish school that increased their earning potential. It allowed women to plan and balance their families and careers,” she argued. “And research also shows that it had a favorable impact on the well-being and earnings of children.”

“There are many research studies that have been done over the years looking at the economic impacts of access or lack thereof to abortion, and it makes clear that denying women access to abortion increases their odds of living in poverty or need for public assistance,” she continued.

Her comments come days after White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein also argued that the potential rollback of Roe would deal a blow to the economy, particularly for people in Republican-led states that are expected to take swift action to limit abortion in the event Roe is overturned.

“Financially, it’s like losing a job. It’s like being evicted, it’s like losing health insurance, it’s like going to the hospital in terms of its impact on their finances,” Bernstein said on CNN last week, while adding the possible repeal would likely hurt lower income people the hardest.

“If you are a wealthy person in a place without access, you can probably get yourself to a place where you can access an abortion,” he said. “All of these costs will fall most severely on those who are unable to access abortion should Roe come down.”

Economists have also warned of the effects limiting abortion access would have on poor working women, as expected state measures to significantly limit or ban abortion would make it tougher for those with fewer resources to travel farther for access.

Tags abortion Abortion Janet Yellen Jared Bernstein Roe Roe v. Wade Treasury

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