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Report: Limiting Abortion Access Costs Nation Billions

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Monday, September 20, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. -- Curbing access to reproductive health-care services, including abortion, can have disastrous effects on economic well-being, according to a new report from the Women's Policy Research Institute.

A Democratic-led legislature in Virginia has eased some restrictions over the past few years. But the report shows lack of access results in loss of wages and, sometimes, leaving the labor force, hitting low-income Virginians the hardest.

Nicole Mason, President and CEO of the Institute, said the Commonwealth's economy loses about $600 million a year due to state-level abortion restrictions.

"Many of the restrictions that limit the reproductive health access to women, in the state of Virginia alone, we could see more than $2 billion in increased earnings for women, ages 15 to 44," Mason outlined.

Since Texas passed a law banning abortions after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant, abortion rights erupted as a hot-button issue in Virginia's governor's race. Democrat Terry McAuliffe ran ads supporting the "right to choose" shortly after the law passed. Republican Glenn Youngkin has mostly avoided the topic, he said, to appeal to independent voters.

The study comes as Planned Parenthood in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. announced it will be providing at-home abortion medication and health services as an option.

Dr. Serina Floyd, medical director for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, pointed out the service is geared for those who face barriers to getting care, who may be low-income, cannot afford to take time off work or don't have services nearby.

"We know that 93% of Virginia counties don't have any clinics that provide abortion," Floyd noted. "So, when you're talking about such a huge desert, when there is such great need, anything that can be done to bring the service to where the patient is -- as opposed to requiring the patient to come to where the service is -- is going to make a huge difference."

Nationwide, abortion bans and targeted restrictions on providers cost state and local economies $105 billion each year, the report found, by reducing women's income and workforce participation.

Disclosure: Institute For Women's Policy Research contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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