WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) – US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that eliminating women’s access to abortion would have “very damaging effects” on the US economy.
Yellen’s comments at a Senate Banking Committee hearing came just over a week after a proposed Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion. The pending decision has raised fears that many more states will enact far-reaching abortion restrictions. read more
The issue dominated a hearing on the Treasury’s Financial Stability Oversight Board’s annual report.
Yellen, the first female Treasury secretary, said in response to a senator’s question that research has shown that 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 think removing women’s rights to make decisions about when and if to have children would have very damaging 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 her framing of the economic fallout from the abortion debate was “harsh” and inappropriate for such a painful social issue.
“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, I find it insensitive,” 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 “real and fulfilling” lives, which includes having the financial resources to raise a child.
“In many cases, abortions are of adolescent women, particularly low-income and often black, who are unable to care for children, have unexpected pregnancies, and often deprive them of the ability to continue their education. to then participate in the workforce,” Yellen said.
“So there is a spillover effect on labor force participation, but it means that children will grow up poor and fare worse,” Yellen said. “This is not harsh. This is the truth,” she added.
Fellow Democrats came to Yellen’s defense, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who warned Scott not to “impose your experience and circumstances on others until you put yourself in their shoes.”
Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minnesota and another member of the banking panel, told CNN that Yellen was expressing a fundamental truth about women’s empowerment.
“She was expressing what I think almost all women know: If you don’t have control over your reproductive life, you don’t have control over any aspect of your life, including your economic opportunity,” Smith said.
Reporting by David Lawder, additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Edited by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot
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