Nearly 630,000 abortions cost the United States an estimated $6.9 trillion in 2019 alone, according to a report released this week by Republicans at the Joint Economic Committee (JEC).
The committee released the report in response to claims by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other economists that restricting abortion would adversely affect the economy by lowering women’s labor market outcomes.
GOOSEBUMPS. @SenatorTimScott delivers a stunning rebuke to Janet Yellen, claiming that black women need abortions to succeed: “I will simply say that as a guy raised by a black woman in extreme poverty, I am grateful to be here as a United States Senator.”
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) May 10, 2022
“These arguments ignore the much greater economic cost of unrestricted abortion when accounting for the lives lost to unborn children,” the Republicans say in the report, titled “The Economic Cost of Abortion.”
The report differed from previous reports by government agencies, noting that the economic cost of abortion from the perspective of unborn babies “has been omitted from previous analyses.” The report states:
Applying standard assessment methods used by government agencies to assess the costs and benefits of policy actions that affect mortality risks, We estimate that the economic cost of abortion for babies not born in The US was $6.9 trillion in 2019, 32% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that year. This cost is 425 times greater than the loss of $16.2 billion in gains that new mothers should incur in the first six years of the child’s life.
The report further stated that abortion “shrinks the workforce”. Republicans have calculated that if all of the roughly 63 million babies aborted since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs Wade decision was carried through and survived to the present, “they would add nearly 20% to the current US population”. Of these, 45 million would be of working age (18 to 64 years).
The report found that abortion also “weakens the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.” According to the report:
Older Americans (aged 65 and over) accounted for a record 16.3% of the US population in 2020, and that proportion is expected to increase to 20.4% by 2040. This demographic shift will make it harder for the relatively smaller number of children to care for their elderly parents. It will also add more pressure to Social Security and Medicare, which are funded by the salaries of Americans who are currently working.
Republicans added that faster population growth is “especially urgent” given current estimates that US economic output “will grow at a historically slow rate” of about 1.5% a year. This slowing rate is largely credited to slowing population growth stemming from low fertility levels, the report states.
“The US total fertility rate was 1.7 births per woman in 2021, which is well below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman,” according to the report.
The report also pointed to the impact of abortion on diversity in the United States. Specifically, the report addressed how black women have abortions at a rate of 23.8% per 1,000 women, “almost four times the rate at which white women have abortions.”
In 2019 alone, non-Hispanic black women accounted for 38.4% of all abortions, compared to 33.4% of non-Hispanic white women. The percentage is especially notable given that 12.9% of all women are non-Hispanic black and 60% are white, the report states. According to the report:
This disparity results in a US population that is less racially and ethnically diverse than it would be if abortion were restricted. Abortion also reduces diversity through the selective termination of babies with disabilities. A previous report by the JEC Republicans found that selective abortion will reduce the population of Americans with Down syndrome by more than 200,000 people over the next 50 years.
In addition, JEC Republicans estimated that, based on the 3.7 million live births recorded in 2019 in the US, eliminating abortion would reduce the risk of mortality among fetuses by up to 14 percentage points..
In light of all the facts and figures, Republicans acknowledged in their conclusion that abortion “at its core is a moral rather than an economic issue.”
“But even in economic terms, arguments that abortion positively affects the economy fail to recognize the cost of abortion to fetuses and society more broadly. These costs far outweigh the short-term labor market benefits of abortion often cited by economists and policymakers,” the report concludes.