Reproductive rights activists worry that women in parts of the United States are losing access to abortion. Economists are also concerned, because restricting reproductive freedom comes at an economic cost to the nation.
The U.S. Supreme Court is about to overturn the historic Roe v. Wade ruling from 1973 as soon as possible next month, according to a recently leaked draft advisory. Thirteen states have passed laws that would immediately ban abortion if the ruling was overturned.
It is generally accepted that the decision is more ideologically and politically motivated than driven by a attempt to protect women from worse outcomes. These can include financial hardship, limited opportunities to get higher education and move up the socioeconomic ladder, as well as overall poorer health outcomes for women who rely on clinics for preventive care. All of this would affect the state of the workforce, economic output and increase the need for government support, economists say.
The impacts are likely to be so vast and far-reaching that they are difficult to quantify, said Jason Lindo, an economics professor at Texas A&M.
It also comes at a time when the proportion of women in the workforce, which fell dramatically during the Covid recession, has still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Taking away a woman’s right to choose whether and when to have a child seriously affects her career and economic conditions, Lindo told CNN Business.
Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers at a hearing that restricting women’s reproductive rights would have “very damaging effects on the economy.”
“Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, have led to increased employment rates,” Yellen said. “It enabled many women to finish school. That increased their earning potential. It enabled women to plan and balance their families and careers.”
Last year, after Texas lawmakers moved to effectively ban abortion in the state, 154 economists filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of preserving reproductive freedoms in the United States so that women can enjoy their full economic and educational opportunities. potential to realize.
Data from the prominent Turnaway Study at the University of California San Francisco shows that household finances are a major driver of the decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. An analysis of the data by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that the majority of women who wanted to terminate a pregnancy at the borderline of pregnancy had an income below the poverty line.
Women who were refused abortions, meanwhile, had higher poverty rates, higher unemployment and a greater need for government support. This, in turn, has implications for the economic well-being and prospects of their children, according to economists.
“There is a huge [body of] literature showing long-term effects of the economic conditions of the household in which a child grows up. About education level, adult earnings, use of social assistance programs, involvement in crime, etc. The list goes on,” Lindo said.
Economists are also concerned that women’s general health care will suffer as a result of restricting or banning abortions. For many women, clinics that offer family planning services are also often the local option for preventive care, including cancer screening and Pap tests. Easy access to these clinics plays a vital role in their health care.
“As the distance to the nearest clinic increases, the number of preventive care decreases,” said David Slusky, an associate professor of economics at the University of Kansas. And that can lead to worse health outcomes.
“If a woman dies of childbearing age, it has huge economic consequences,” he added. “It’s someone that society has invested in and has many productive economic years ahead of them.”