“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,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
Yellen’s made her comments in light of a Supreme Court draft opinion leak last week, which suggested a potential reversal of the landmark decision on legalized abortion in the U.S. set by Roe v. Wade in 1973.
If challenged, the access to abortion would be left up to each states to decide. Multiple states are already moving to restrict abortion access. The Supreme Court confirmed the leaked document is authentic but is not final, and announced investigation into the source.
Yellen was responding to a question by Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, regarding the economic impact women would face if they lost access to legalized abortion. Yellen said it would have tremendous consequences on labor participation and women’s education.
Economists have weighed in for the potential financial consequences of Roe v. Wade being overturned. They pointed to the direct relation between higher labor-participation rate and the access to abortion and contraceptives in the 1970s and 1980s.
Abortion restrictions have already taken a toll on women who struggle to come up with the money for an abortion, and need to travel long distances to get a termination.
Median out-of-pocket charges for medication abortion, which is now estimated to make up more than half of all U.S. abortions, rose from $495 to $560 between 2017 and 2020, according to research published last month in the journal Health Affairs. Nearly half of women who have abortions live below the federal poverty level, according to previous research.
“A lot of us don’t realize how on the edge many people live,” Parker Dockray, the executive director of All-Options, a national organization with services including a talkline to help pregnant women, told MarketWatch.