Let’s talk business.
In the last some-odd days, there has been an outpouring of entirely justified anger, sadness, and pain in response to the revelation that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. Much of the anger has been righteous, even biblical, calling down the heavens upon the head of every conservative Supreme Court justice who ever called the case settled law. To be clear, banning vital, lifesaving medical care, infringing on bodily autonomy, and taking away the right to choose is abhorrent. Full stop. All it does is hurt people in need of abortions and in turn children and families. The harm a decision like this will cause—which will disproportionately impact poor women, BIPOC women, and other marginalized people—is terrifying.
There have also been some frankly crass and manipulative thinkpieces talking about how this is really a good thing because it’ll energize the Democratic base ahead of a difficult midterm, which is exactly the last thing anybody needs to hear right now. And there’ve already been plenty valuable pep talks about reasons for hope and tactics going forward.
We’re not going to do any of that today, though. I want to talk dollars and cents to business owners out there with their eyes on the bottom line. There is a simple, oft-ignored truth: the right to choose has been extremely good for business. In fact, I would credit it with a substantial part in fueling the economic expansions of the ‘80s and ‘90s for the simple and indisputable reason that it dramatically expanded the ability of women to perform economically productive work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics
bears out at least the first point of my hypothesis; the 1970s experienced a meaningful increase in the rate at which women entered and remained in the workforce; by the 1980s, that trend is so marked that the presence of women in the workforce reached popular culture—Working Girl, anyone? Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five?—as a sign of the changing times. And the 1980s also begins the largest, most prolonged expansion of the economy in American history, a 15-year spell misleadingly known as the “Reagan Boom,” as taboos around contraception and abortion begin to lose some of their hold. Maybe this is all just supposition. But consider another trend: companies with women leadership consistently and demonstrably outperform
those where women have little significant voice—and the ‘80s is when women really began to enter corporate leadership on a large scale.
We can see a related trend in the reduction of crime starting in the early 1990s, which has in turn fueled the revitalization of entire cities as areas once perceived as too dangerous for business slowly sprang back to life—likely at least in part because comparatively fewer children were being born into extreme poverty conditions and not, in fact, because the police started busting people for vandalism
; in fact, poverty is an incredibly powerful predictor of violent crime
. To wit: “Legalized abortion is estimated to have reduced violent crime by 47% and property crime by 33%” over the period from 1994 to 2013. The steep drop in crime rates over the course of the 1990s closely tracked declining child poverty levels; the recent uptick in violent crime also follows two decades of increasing poverty rates in the general population. Consistenly, experts, studies
, and statistics
have shown that outlawing abortion will directly lead to increase child poverty.
Women make up nearly half of the workforce in this country. Businesses, what do you think will happen when your employees lose the ability to choose when to have children? Consider, for a moment, that potential loss of talent on a massive scale. Staying silent here, is not an option for business owners.
There is every reason, as a business owner, to support a woman’s right to control her own body, which belongs to her and only her; the liberation of women has helped to fuel the most dynamic and dominant economy on the planet by allowing half of all people alive the freedom to determine her own destiny. This was recognized by the Southern Baptist Convention, of all organizations, even before Roe v. Wade
. Supporting women is supporting yourself. Upholding her rights, upholds your prosperity.
Do the selfish thing.