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The Supreme Court’s expected reversal of Roe v. Wade and the abortion rights it provides threatens to roll back the economic and educational advances made by American women in the last 49 years.
Abortion rights have improved women’s ability to attain higher education. They’ve led to increased lifetime earnings. And they’ve given women more long-term financial stability.
The Supreme Court is well aware of these gains. A group of 154 economists and researchers highlighted them in a brief to the court as part of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Program case, which looks at abortion restrictions enacted in Mississippi. But the court apparently plans to overlook these gains ― and turn them back ― in a ruling anticipated in June that would end the constitutional right to an abortion.
The discussion around reproductive rights is often framed as part of a “culture war” between religious conservatives and secular liberals over nonmaterial concerns. A leaked draft majority opinion in the case, written by Justice Samuel Alito, largely focuses on a (dubious) history of abortion law in an attempt to show that legal abortion is not “deeply rooted” in the country’s “history and tradition” in his argument for overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
But as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted earlier this week, the right to have an abortion is also an economic issue.
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