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June 27 — The U.S. Supreme Court's June 27 decision striking down a pair of Texas abortion regulations was a win for businesses as well as women, Leah Bruno of Dentons, Chicago, told Bloomberg BNA June 27.
Bruno filed an amicus brief on behalf of a group of 60 business professionals who opposed the regulations at issue in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, No. 15-274, 2016 BL 204435 (U.S. June 27, 2016) (see related story).
An opposite result, upholding the abortion restrictions, would have “negatively impact[ed] businesses and the national economy,” the group of current and former Fortune 200 executives said in their amicus brief.
“For businesses, statutes that restrict access to abortion services can result in stressed and distracted employees, absenteeism, greater turnover and overall decreased productivity, all of which are detrimental to those businesses and, ultimately, the national economy,” the group, which included current and former executives at Microsoft Corp., Google, and Hyatt Hotels, said.
But the “negative economic impact that abortion itself” has on women hasn't been properly calculated, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Staten Island, N.Y., told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.
It's impossible to conclude, therefore, that “any negative economic impact from barriers to abortion outweighs” the cost of abortion itself, said Pavone, whose organization filed an amicus brief in support of the state regulations.
The business leaders, however, said that it's “critical to the continued success of the national economy that women have the ability to participate fully in the businesses that employ them.”
“In order to do so, they must have meaningful access to the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare options so that they may choose whether and when to have children,” their brief said.
That's evidenced by the growing number of women who have entered the workforce and advanced into senior business roles since the Supreme Court “recognized abortion to be a constitutionally protected fundamental right” in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the brief said.
“The increased number of women in the workforce has added $1.7 trillion gross domestic product to the national economy,” it said.
There are hard numbers showing that restrictions on access to abortion have tangible costs, Bruno said.
For example, “longer travel distances will require women and their companions to miss work and incur previously unnecessary travel-related expenses. This in turn will cause many businesses to suffer economic losses associated with the increased absences,” her amicus brief said.
Moreover, the brief said that when “employees’ well-being is compromised,” businesses can incur “concrete economic losses related to, among other things: (i) reduced productivity and presenteeism; (ii) absenteeism; and (iii) high rates of employee turnover.”
“Such factors can cost businesses up to $300 billion annually,” the brief said. “Calculated another way, a single employee who faces health issues can cause a business to incur ‘an estimated cost of 16 days of [incidental] sick leave and [loss of] $8,000 … per year.' ”
“Health-related loss of productive time, in particular, results in annual losses to businesses of approximately $226 billion,” the brief said.
Abortion restrictions can have a negative impact on women too, the brief said.
Women “who postpone entry into parenthood until their late 20’s or 30’s increase their short and long term earning power.”
Women “may see ‘a 3% increase in weekly wages and a 9% increase in career earnings for each year of delayed childbearing, even after accounting for differences in other background characteristics that could affect women’s earnings,' ” the brief said.
“On the other hand, women who need but cannot get an abortion are ‘three times more likely to fall into poverty' than women who have meaningful access to abortions,” the brief said.
Every one—not just women—benefits from women being able to control their own future, Bruno said. That control makes women more productive employees, entrepreneurs and participants in our economic society, she said.
But Pavone said that women who choose not to have an abortion don't have to be stuck raising a child they can't care for.
“Those who choose not to have an abortion have multiple options, and, in fact, the bulk of the time, energy and resources of the pro-life movement are geared towards providing those options,” he said.
For example, Pavone said his organization Priests for Life help train “pregnancy centers” and their staff. “The services these centers offer include basic counseling, discernment of job opportunities, financial and medical services, parenting classes, and more.”
Moreover, Pavone said there are costs that aren't being taken into account.
The assertion that barriers to abortion have a negative economic impact “cannot be made without examining more thoroughly the negative economic impact that abortion itself” has on women, he said.
Priests for Life and its related organizations work with “women who have had abortions and now regret it,” Pavone said.
The interactions with these women “show that among the effects of having an abortion are a) an increase in substance abuse, b) an inability to sustain intimate and stable relationships, c) an increase in risk-taking behavior, including suicidal attempts, d) an inability to pursue one's goals due to a loss of self-esteem and sound decision-making capacity, [and] e) multiple physical and psychological wounds,” he said.
All of these costs “have an economic impact on women which would have to be examined in some detail prior to concluding that any negative economic impact from barriers to abortion outweighs it,” Pavone said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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