Treasury Secretary Shows Disturbing Lack of Empathy in Abortion Comments – Opinion

Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary to the Treasury is under fire after her comments Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee on abortion. Sounding like a Soviet apparatchik, she said, “Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care including abortion helped lead to increased (women’s) labor force participation,” adding, “research also shows that it had a favorable impact on the well-being and earnings of children.”


South Carolina Senator Tim Scott was aghast at the testimony and delivered a “knock out response,” as RedState’s Brandon Morse reported.

On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board piled on in an editorial:

Putting the difficult moral choice of abortion in such utilitarian terms won’t win over many converts. Ms. Yellen overlooks certain economic facts, even in these narrow terms.

Are there any utilitarian terms you would like to use? Empathy would be more evident in a well-programmed robot. As the Journal points out, her economic reasoning is flawed.

The link between abortion access and women’s labor force participation is more tenuous than she suggests. Women’s labor participation was rising for decades before Roe Cultural changes caused the rate to continue climbing until the 2000s. In addition to falling by half in 1980, abortion rates and teenage pregnancy have plummeted by nearly two-thirds between 1990 and now thanks to greater access. Access to abortion has a significant impact on the choices women make in their lives and careers.

They will continue to do so:

Ms. Yellen fails to recognize the productivity of unborn children. The source of new ideas and businesses is people. People are valuable assets. Economic growth is only possible with the help of human capital. China is abandoning its one-child policy which included forced abortions. This was because China sees a decline in population over the coming years.

The Journal is able to explain why abortion does not always have an economic miracle cure. Another thing to think about is what Yellen appears to be saying about the poor, namely that their lives aren’t worth living:

“In many cases, abortions are of teenage women, particularly low-income and often Black, who aren’t in a position to be able to care for children, have unexpected pregnancies, and it deprives them of the ability often to continue their education to later participate in the workforce,” Yellen said.”So there is a spillover into labor force participation, but it means the children will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves…”

“This is not harsh. This is the truth,” she added.

“The children will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves,” she says. Okay. But does the fact that they might be poor mean they shouldn’t even be born?

If you had the choice to live with the caveat that you would always be poor, you’d probably choose life. And while no one wishes poverty on anyone, the poor aren’t always miserable people, and in fact, can find happiness in life without a fancy car:

People at the lower end of the income scale take more pleasure in their relationships and enjoy caring for and connecting with others, according to a study published Monday in the journal Emotion. The research shows that those with more incomes feel positive emotions but are more focused on them.

Money can’t buy me love, sang the Beatles. It can’t buy you happiness either.

Yellen talks about women in the labor force as if they’re little worker bees, and their happiness comes only from the pursuit of money and their participation in the workforce. Elistists are entitled to condescension from the ruling class.

As the Journal editorial opines, ”Abortion is a fraught moral issue, which is why it ought to be settled democratically, rather than by judicial fiat. But its consequences can’t be measured by lifetime earnings or the labor participation rate.”

Very well said.

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