A number of journalists and politicians have issued dire forecasts of what will happen if the US Supreme Court does strike down Roe v. Wade – which now seems quite likely.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a Senate Banking Committee hearing that if women lost the right to have abortions, the country would suffer economically. “I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” she said. “[Roe v. Wade] enabled many women to finish school,” she said, according to a transcript. “That increased their earning potential. It allowed women to plan and balance their families and careers. And research also shows that it had a favorable impact on the well-being and earnings of children.”
The Wall Street Journal responded in an editorial that “Ms. Yellen overlooks the lost productive contribution of children who were never born. People are assets, the source of inventions and new businesses. Human capital is crucial to economic growth and a dynamic society. China has abandoned its one- child policy, which sometimes included coerced abortions, because it foresees a declining population in the years ahead. “
Dr Lisa Harris, of the University of Michigan, described a number of consequences in the New England Journal of Medicine for clinicians. They include: an increase in maternal mortality “because abortion is far safer than childbirth”. “Doctors may hesitate to treat patients with ectopic pregnancy, inevitable miscarriage, or pre-viability rupture of membranes when fetal cardiac activity remains.” Abortion training may be cancelled, with deleterious consequences for patients.
The IVF industry is very worried about the long-term consequences. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the lead body for fertility doctors, said in a statement that it was very concerned about the “impact on the reproductive medical field, the impact to our members’ livelihoods, and the impact on access to safe medical care for patients”. “The clearest danger is the ambiguity about the legal status of in-vitro fertilized eggs,” it declared.
According to the Washington Post, other procedures related to fertility medicine might be at risk, like foetal reduction or genetic screening of embryos.
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, writes in The Atlantic that her fictional republic of Gilead, a deeply misogynistic patriarchy, is becoming a reality. “Should the Alito opinion become the newly settled law, the United States looks to be well on the way to establishing a state religion. Massachusetts had an official religion in the 17th century. In adherence to it, the Puritans hanged Quakers.
“The Alito opinion purports to be based on America’s Constitution. But it relies on English jurisprudence from the 17th century, a time when a belief in witchcraft caused the death of many innocent people … Similarly, it will be very difficult to disprove a false accusation of abortion. The mere fact of a miscarriage, or a claim by a disgruntled former partner, will easily brand you a murderer. Revenge and spite charges will proliferate, as did arraignments for witchcraft 500 years ago.”