The Costs of Reproductive Health Restrictions

An Economic Case for Ending Harmful State Policies

Access to comprehensive reproductive health care is central to gender equity and women’s full participation in the workplace. For businesses, restrictions on access to reproductive health care are not only at odds with stated corporate values, such as equity and inclusion, they also affect the ability of companies to deliver on their value propositions.

In recent decades, a rise in state efforts to limit access to comprehensive reproductive health care has threatened women’s equality and participation in the workforce and put state and regional economies at risk. Between January 1st and April 29, 2021 alone, 536 abortion restrictions, including 146 abortion bans, were introduced across 46 states. Sixty-one of those restrictions have been enacted across 13 states, including eight bans. The effect of these restrictions is amplified by federal policies such as the Hyde Amendment, which limits the use of federal dollars for abortion. These measures fall hardest on women that already face systemic obstacles accessing health care and economic opportunities—including Black women, Hispanic women, low-income women, rural women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and more.  To date, the economic costs of these restrictions have not been fully articulated.

This new tool seeks to capture the costs of reproductive health restrictions at the state level.

Impact of Eliminating Abortion Restrictions on U.S. Labor Force Participation and Earnings Growth for Women Ages 15–44 by Race/Ethnicity

Black 1.279.92
Asian Pacific Islander (API).977.13

Ending Reproductive Health Restrictions: Good for Women, Good for Business

Below you will find an interactive map.  Please navigate the map by clicking the state you wish to learn more about and then select the “view state data” button to see detailed data and statistics.

Total Economic Losses due to State-level Abortion Restrictions, Women aged 15–44 (2020, in $)

Increase in State GDP if all State-level Restrictive Abortion Policies were Eliminated, Women ages 15-44

Increase in State Labor Force if all State-level Restrictive Abortion Policies were Eliminated, Women ages 15-44

Towards Reproductive Justice

Efforts to improve access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, must always prioritize the autonomy and health of women. The United States has a long and well-documented history of reproductive coercion targeting women of color, poor women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized groups. Promoting abortion, contraception, or sterilization over the desires or health needs of women is never justified—whether for economic reasons or otherwise.

This tool is meant to support the ongoing work of reproductive justice advocates and emphasize areas in which reproductive justice goals align with those of business leaders and policymakers focused on economic growth.

IWPR’s analysis is largely based on survey data where respondents self-identified within the binary choice: male and female. This digital tool uses the term “women” to describe people who self-identified as female and assumes that these individuals are directly affected by restrictions on access to reproductive health care. IWPR acknowledges that not all people who can become pregnant identify as women, including transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. The tool’s use of the term “women” reflects an absence of underlying data on gender identity and transgender status. An additional limitation of the data used for this macro-level analysis is the absence of information on respondent’s fecundity, reproductive behaviors, and fertility intentions.

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