WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said Tuesday that the loss of access to legal abortions would hurt the U.S. economy and be a blow to women’s economic well-being.
“I think eliminating women’s right to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very detrimental effects on the economy and would put women decades back,” Ms. Yellen during a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
A leaked draft decision indicated that the Supreme Court was ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case of 1973 that established a constitutional right to abortion, which raised concerns that access to abortions would be curtailed in large parts of the country.
Ms. Yellen, who is the first female finance minister, said such a move would represent a major economic setback for women. She said legalizing abortion helped lead to increased labor force participation among women, enabling more people to drop out of school and increase their earning potential, and she pointed to economic research that supports this argument.
“It makes it clear that denying women access to abortion increases their chances of living in poverty or needing public assistance,” Ms said. Yellen about the research.
Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, called Yellen’s argument “hard” and “penetrating,” suggesting that it was inappropriate to frame the debate on abortion in economic terms. He said he was grateful to have been raised by a single mother who kept their family out of poverty.
In a tense exchange, Mrs Yellen withdrew, saying that it is important for women to be able to have children when they have the financial resources to take care of them.
“This is not hard, this is the truth,” Ms. Yellen.