2021 is on track to be the most restrictive anti-abortion year ever among state legislatures. Since January, over 500 abortion restrictions have been introduced across 47 states. Already, this is the second greatest number of restrictions in one year in American history. Just last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a new bill that bans abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks. This legislation also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers. Thus, any Texan can sue an abortion provider or someone who facilitates an abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat.
Not only do such restrictions severely limit women’s* reproductive rights, but it also hurts the economy—and hinders businesses in the war for top talent. New IWPR research estimates that current abortion restrictions in Texas prevent over 80,000 women from entering the workforce and cost the state over $14.5 billion in 2020. The economic impact will greatly increase when the new Texas anti-abortion bill is enacted in September 2021, further disadvantaging Texas residents and hurting the state’s economy.
Additionally, the Supreme Court is set to hear a case in its next term, beginning in October 2021, that has massive implications on American women’s reproductive rights. The case, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges a new Mississippi law that places several significant restrictions on abortion access, including banning telehealth consultations, requiring a minimum of two visits to the clinic prior to obtaining an abortion, and prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks.
Taken together, state-level abortion restrictions like these cost the United States a total of $105 billion per year by reducing labor force participation and earnings levels and increasing worker turnover and time off. If all state-level abortion restrictions were lifted, an additional 500,000 women of reproductive age would enter the labor force and earn $3 billion more per year.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi anti-abortion law, even more states could follow this precedent and enact their own increasingly restrictive measures. Anti-abortion bills like Texas’s would then be much more difficult to challenge or repeal. In the coming months, the fight for reproductive justice will not only be crucial to protect Americans’ bodily autonomy, but also their economic wellbeing.
*The author acknowledges that not all individuals who can become pregnant identify as women (including transgender and nonbinary people); however, for brevity, this article refers those affected as “women.”