Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that eliminating women’s access to abortion would have “very detrimental effects” on the U.S. economy, preventing some women from completing their education and reducing their earning potential. lifetime earnings and labor force participation.
Yellen’s comments during a Senate Banking Committee hearing came just over a week after a draft Supreme Court decision was leaked that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The pending ruling has raised fears that many other states will adopt sweeping abortion restrictions.
The question dominated a hearing on the annual report of the Treasury’s Financial Stability Supervisory Board.
Yellen, the first female Treasury secretary, said in response to a senator’s question that research has shown Roe v. Wade had a favorable impact on the well-being of children and that denying women access to abortion increases their chances of living in poverty or on public assistance.
“I believe that eliminating women’s rights to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very detrimental effects on the economy and set women back decades,” Yellen said.
Yellen’s comments drew a rebuke from Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who said his formulation of the economic consequences of the abortion debate was “harsh” and inappropriate for such a painful social issue.
“I think people can disagree on whether to be pro-life or pro-abortion. But at the end of the day, I think to frame it in the context of labor force participation, it just feels unforgiving to me,” Scott said, adding that he was raised by a black single mother in poverty.
Yellen responded by saying that reproductive rights allow women to plan “fulfilling and satisfying” lives, which includes having the financial resources to raise a child.
“In many cases, abortions involve adolescent girls, especially low-income and often black, who are unable to care for children, have unexpected pregnancies and this often robs them of the ability to continue their studies to later participate in the workforce,” Yellen said.
“So there are spillovers to labor market participation, but it means kids will grow up in poverty and pull themselves out of it,” Yellen said. “It’s not hard. It’s the truth,” she added.
Fellow Democrats came to Yellen’s defense, including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who warned Scott not to “impose your experience and circumstances on others until you put yourself in their shoes.”
Senator Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat and fellow banking panelist, told CNN that Yellen speaks to a fundamental truth about women’s empowerment.
“She was expressing what I believe almost every woman knows: if you don’t have control over your reproductive life, you have no control over any aspect of your life, including your economic opportunity,” Smith said. .
New York Post