Last week, the Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health (CERH) at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released game-changing research on reproductive health to monetize the cost of state-level reproductive health restrictions. This new tool designed for advocates shows that policies restricting access to comprehensive reproductive health care are costly to women and state economies. The Tara Health Foundation proudly supported this project.

At the national level, IWPR estimates that state-level abortion restrictions cost state economies $105 billion dollars per year—by reducing labor force participation and earnings levels and increasing turnover and time off from work among women ages 15 to 44 years.

IWPR’s analysis estimates that, on a national scale, if all state-level abortion restrictions were eliminated:

  • An additional 505,000 women aged 15 to 44 would enter the labor force and earn about $3.0 billion dollars annually.
  • Annual earnings for working women aged 15 to 44 would increase by $101.8 billion. On average, gains would amount to $1,610 per capita—with an impact from $0 in Vermont to $2,879 in Nebraska.
  • National GDP would be nearly 0.5 percent greater—ranging from zero percent in Vermont to over one percent in Missouri.

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In the first six months of 2021 alone, over 500 abortion restrictions, including bans, were introduced across 46 states. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade. This rise in efforts to limit access to comprehensive reproductive health care threatens women’s equality and participation in the workforce—and puts state and regional economies at risk. These measures fall hardest on women that already face systemic obstacles accessing health care and economic opportunities.

On May 19, IWPR convened a three-part virtual event to introduce this new tool to arm advocates with timely research to counter restrictions at the state level. Please find links to recordings of the event sessions below.

The Costs of Reproductive Health Restrictions: An Economic Case for Ending Harmful State Policies

  1. Nicole Mason, PhD, IWPR President and CEO, Michelle Hawks Cuellar, PhD, IWPR CERH Associate Director, andJeffrey Hayes, PhD, IWPR Program Director, Job Quality and Income Security, presented IWPR’s new research.

Journalist Janet Burns moderated a panel to discuss this research’s broader implications and how state-level advocates can use the results to engage elected officials and corporate leaders on this critical issue. Panelists included:

  • Dar’shun Kendrick, Georgia State Representative to House District 93
  • Jim Doyle, President, Business Forward
  • Diana Greene Foster, PhD, Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Director of Research, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco
  • C. Nicole Mason, PhD, IWPR President and CEO
  • Moderated by C. Nicole Mason, PhD, President and CEO, IWPR
  • Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund
  • Christine Clark, Program Officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Moderated by Galina Espinoza, President and Editor in Chief, Rewire News Group
  • Herminia Palacio, President and CEO, Guttmacher Institute
  • Shannan Reaze, Executive Director, Atlanta Jobs with Justice
  • Ann Marie Benitez, Senior Director of Government Relations, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice
  • Marcela Howell, Founder and President, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Access to comprehensive reproductive health care is central to gender equity and women’s full participation in the workplace.

“We are in the fight of our lives at this moment. Gains made over the past few decades are slipping away, leaving many women without access to the full range of reproductive health care services in states and communities across the country,” IWPR President and CEO C. Nicole Mason said. “2021 is shaping up to be the most devastating anti-abortion state legislative session in decades. As we move toward a post-COVID recovery, we must work to ensure that all women have access to the full range of reproductive health options.”

Follow IWPR’s Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health as we continue to advance timely discussions and build research aimed at safeguarding women’s reproductive autonomy and economic security.

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