During a debate over an anti-abortion bill currently advancing in Congress, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) suggested that Republicans support restricting access to abortion because it will ultimately benefit the economy if women have more children. Goodlatte noted that carrying pregnancies to term “very much promotes job creation.”
Goodlatte made the comments while presiding over a committee mark-up of the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” or HR 7, on Wednesday afternoon. That legislation would dramatically restrict women’s access to affordable abortion care by imposing restrictions on insurance coverage and tax credits for the procedure. Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, advanced HR 7 by scheduling it for a full committee mark-up on Wednesday.
Explaining his support for the measure, Goodlatte made both a moral and an economic case for anti-choice laws. “I would suggest that it is very much the case that those of us in the majority support this legislation because it is the morally right thing to do but it is also very very true that having a growing population and having new children brought into the world is not harmful to job creation,” he said. “It very much promotes job creation for all the care and services and so on that need to be provided by a lot of people to raise children.”
In reality, denying women autonomy over their reproductive lives is not a wise economic policy. Without access to affordable family planning services, women are less likely to be able to finish their education, advance their career, or achieve financial independence. The low-income women who end up carrying unwanted pregnancies to term end up slipping deeper into poverty and struggling with long-term mental health issues. That ends up impacting the social safety net, putting a greater strain on the Medicaid program. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that every $1 invested into family planning programs yields more than $5 in savings for the U.S. government.
The Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee have expressed fierce opposition to HR 7. On Tuesday, the female committee members wrote a letter to Goodlatte criticizing him for deciding to advance the bill.
“As we urge Congress in 2014 to consider legislative action that would meaningfully address the economic insecurity currently facing millions of women and families, the Judiciary Committee’s first action to mark up legislation that would harm women’s access to reproductive health care is truly dispiriting,” they wrote. “We strongly oppose this sweeping anti-choice bill.”