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Yellen Says Striking Down Abortion Rights Would Hurt US Economy

Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, speaks during a news conference at the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, 21 April 2022. Yellen blames Russia and China for actions she says hurt Africa.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen entered one of the most politically charged US debates Tuesday, saying the economy would suffer if the Supreme Court significantly limits women’s access to abortion.

Eliminating the right to access abortion services “would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” Yellen told lawmakers during a Senate Banking Committee hearing, responding to a question from Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey about the economic impact of an abortion ban.

Economic research, she added, suggested such a move would increase poverty levels for women and hurt the future earnings of children.

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The draft of a Supreme Court ruling that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision leaked to a news outlet last week, and its authenticity was confirmed by the court. The draft would strike down the half-century federal precedent that had given women the right to seek an abortion and would allow states to make their own laws and restrictions.

Her remarks sparked an immediate response from South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, who objected to Yellen framing the issue of abortion in economic terms.

“I think people can disagree on the issue of being pro-life or pro-abortion, but in the end I think framing it in the context of labor force participation just feels callous to me,” he said.

Yellen retorted that she didn’t mean to sound harsh but was speaking to economic realities for women and children.

“What we’re talking about is whether women will have the ability to regulate their reproductive situation in ways that will enable them to plan lives that are fulfilling and satisfying to them,” said Yellen, an economist who previously served as Federal Reserve chair and is the first woman in US history to hold the post of Treasury secretary.

“One aspect of a satisfying life is being able to feel like you have the financial resources to raise a child, that the children you bring into the word are wanted, and you have the ability to take care of them,” she said.


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