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Biden's Labor Secretary has 'serious concerns' about the economic impacts of Roe v. Wade getting potentially overturned

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/6/2022 insider@insider.com (Juliana Kaplan)
Marty Walsh wearing a suit and tie: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge speak to members of the press outside the West Wing of the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on May 7, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge speak to members of the press outside the West Wing of the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on May 7, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • A leaked draft opinion showed that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • The landmark ruling gives Americans a constitutional right to an abortion.
  • Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said he has serious concerns about the economic impacts of overturning Roe.

On Monday, Politico published a bombshell leak: The Supreme Court was set to overturn landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. Since 1973, Americans have had a constitutional right to an abortion — something that could end as soon as this summer, when the Supreme Court is expected to rule on it.

The Supreme Court later confirmed that the leak was authentic, although the decision is still not final. The leaked draft opinion unleashed an immediate torrent of backlash.

"I have serious concerns about the economic impacts of Roe potentially being overturned," Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh told Insider in an interview about April's newly-released employment data.

"This will impact women individually, but also is going to impact our economy as a whole," Walsh said. "I don't think we could underscore the importance of what actions potentially could happen at the court."

Abortion would likely become illegal in 23 states if Roe was overturned, Insider's Hilary Brueck, Mia de Graaf, and Andrea Michelson report. There would be a cascade of economic ripple effects from that, with many disproportionately hitting some of the most marginalized and lowest-earning workers in the country. 

"If Roe is overturned, abortion is going to become a function of class privilege," Kimberly Kelly, a Mississippi sociology professor studying abortion politics, told Insider's Oma Seddiq and Madison Hoff. "Affluent women who can travel, will travel. Only women with certain levels of economic resources will be able to travel."

Kelly said that the people who will lose access, then, "will be Black women, brown women, poor women, and young women."

The University of California San Francisco conducted a five-year-long study of 1,000 women who had sought abortions, called the Turnaway Study. From their interviews, they found that women being denied an abortion dealt with significant financial blows — but having access to one "does not harm the health and wellbeing of women."

Instead, when women were turned away and then gave birth, they "experienced an increase in household poverty lasting at least four years relative to those who received an abortion." Getting turned away from an abortion meant women's credit scores went down, and their debt went up.

The financial repercussions are felt for years when a woman is denied an abortion, according to the study: "Years after an abortion denial, women were more likely to not have enough money to cover basic living expenses like food, housing and transportation."

And economic blows aren't restricted to just the women turned away from an abortion. Children who are born because of it "are more likely to live below the federal poverty level than children born from a subsequent pregnancy to women who received the abortion."

Meanwhile, if state-level abortion restrictions were lifted, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 505,000 more women would join the labor force — and cumulatively earn over $3 billion every year.

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