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Supreme Court’s abortion ruling has a ‘huge impact on businesses,’ expert says

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Tara Health Foundation President Dr. Ruth Shaber joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the impact businesses face as the Supreme Court rules to overturn ‘Roe v. Wade’.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Just moments ago, we learned that the Supreme Court had indeed overturned the 1973 landmark abortion rights law, Roe v Wade, or ruling Roe v Wade. Let's talk more about the implications of this now, as we know that 26 states are automatically potentially set to restrict abortion access in the wake of this decision.

Let's bring in now Tara Health Foundation president and "The XX Edge" author, Dr. Ruth Shaber. She's an obstetrician and gynecologist who was practicing before she began this foundation. Dr. Shaber, thank you so much for being here. Just kind of big picture here, give us a look at what we can expect in the wake of this decision and the effect on women and families in this country.

RUTH SHABER: So thank you for the opportunity to talk. And while this is very disappointing news, it's not a surprise. And we really have seen this coming for quite a while. As we talk about in our new book, "The XX Edge," women are an essential part of financial leadership and certainly contribute to the economies across the world and certainly in the United States.

And what this ruling means is not only for individual women and their families and the impact on the ability to control their family size, but it's a huge impact on businesses and states' economies. And that's something that we do examine in our book, but also that we think it's really important for business leaders to also be thinking about.

JULIE HYMAN: And as we've been talking about, there have already been some companies that have come out and said they will pay for travel for employees who are in states that do restrict abortion access. Talk to me-- you said this has been something that perhaps has been in the works for a while. How have we seen preparation for this? And is there preparation that healthcare providers, public health agencies, companies, could have been doing, or even can now do, in the wake of this decision?

RUTH SHABER: Well, everyone hopes for the best, right? But you need to plan for the worst. So we have been working quite extensively behind the scenes with a lot of big companies to help them understand the power that women have in their workforce. And that when you take away the opportunity to have essential healthcare, that is very destabilizing. That we know, for instance, that both men and women do not want to be recruited to a company that has its headquarters or where they would need to work in a state where they don't have full access to reproductive healthcare.

We know that when women are in a position of wanting an abortion, needing an abortion, that if they don't have access in their community, they need to take the time to figure out their travel, pay for their travel expenses. Often, it means delaying their procedure, which means it's more costly and more-- has more risks for them medically. So these are all things that really do have an impact on the workforce.

And so when we talk to a company about what this means, we're emphasizing that it's actually in their economic interest to provide as much support as possible for both their men and women, for their families, so that they can have full coverage. Women don't want to be recruited. They're going to miss out on the top talent.

There's a recent study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research that showed that the impact of the existing abortion restrictions-- this is before the Supreme Court ruling-- takes away about $3 billion from states' economies across the United States. So this is already eroding the vibrancy of our economies by making women work so much harder to get the healthcare they need.

BRAD SMITH: Right, and it has a longer impact on educational attainment, career trajectories, as you were laying out a moment ago. And so with all of that in mind, is there an idea as to how much economic impact, if we were able to put any type of number that we need to walk away with, because this-- and this is far more than just about numbers at the end of the day. Let me kind of caveat it with that. But if we were to have any sense of the type of economic impact, what is that looking like?

RUTH SHABER: Well, you know, I'll stick to this $3 billion number of existing impact. And that's with the existing restrictions. And obviously, without the protection of Roe v Wade, and as you mentioned already, 26 states are primed to completely restrict abortion access, I think that number is going to go way up.

And that doesn't take into account things like what happens to families when they are forced to have pregnancies that they hadn't planned on, women dropping out of the workforce, men dropping out of the workforce to take care of those children. And there is quite a bit of research that shows that when women have-- when families have babies that they hadn't intended, that the impact on their social and economic optimization of that family and that community is also impacted.

And one thing I want to also stress is that the existing restrictions before this ruling most directly impacted our most marginalized communities. So women of color and women who live in rural communities and don't have easy access. So this is something that the people with means, people with privilege in this country are going to be able to get the services they need. They're going to hop on a plane. They're going to do what they need to do. But the impact is really on the folks in our country, our fellow citizens who have the least resources. So it's only going to perpetuate these cycles of wealth gap that we've been talking about for years.

JULIE HYMAN: Dr. Shaber, I know you're a doctor and not a political scientist, for example. But there is one other possibility here. And that is that Congress would now legislate its way towards abortion rights. Now that's a very thin path, right, because of the mix in Congress right now. But, you know, I don't know if there's any talk in the community about that as a possibility.

RUTH SHABER: Absolutely, and I think that that's always the best way to go, if we can turn to our government to-- and public policy to create the protections that we need. There's certainly an opportunity for that at the federal level and at the state level. A lot of states have laws that have been on the books since before the Roe v Wade in '73 that they need to refresh and go back and look at and make sure that they're giving the right protection to their citizens that they think that they are or that they've relied on Roe v Wade to provide. So yes, there is a huge amount. And that means we have to vote.

We know that when we've polled-- and lots of non-partisan polls that have been conducted that show that the overwhelming majority of people in this country and every state believe that women should have access to abortion. Maybe there's difference of opinions at what stage in a pregnancy or under what circumstances. But a consistently overwhelming majority of men and women believe that this is a fundamental healthcare right. And so we have to turn to our politicians to help make that the reality.

JULIE HYMAN: Well, we'll see what happens, if anything, on that front. Dr. Ruth Shaber, thank you so much for being here with quick reaction to this very, obviously, important ruling for America today. Thank you so much. Dr. Ruth Shaber, Tara Health Foundation president and author of "The XX Edge."