For months, Republicans have been claiming that voters in the upcoming midterm elections don’t care that the Supreme Court ripped away federal abortion rights—they are upset about inflation and the economy at large. (This larger argument has been trotted out for years, but it’s especially egregious now that Roe v. Wade is gone.)
It’s a red herring, of course, because abortion is absolutely an economic issue. We’ve seen the claim on the campaign trail, cable news, local news, and now in a Congressional hearing—and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) wasn’t going to let it stand.
On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing titled “Examining the Harm to Patients from Abortion Restrictions and the Threat of a National Abortion Ban.” That potential ban, of course, is the legislation Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced earlier this month that would ban abortion at 15 weeks nationwide, but still let earlier, more restrictive bans stay in effect.
Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kansas) said he was upset that the committee was holding its third hearing on abortion this year, when it could be conducting oversight on the White House’s actions on the economy and energy policies. (LaTurner’s statement begins at 2:26:45 here, and his time ends at 2:32.)
Ocasio-Cortez spoke immediately after LaTurner’s questioning period and addressed his complaint that the committee should be focusing on economic issues, calling it “disappointing” and flat out false. “I think it’s important to state that that abortion is an economic issue. Forcing poor and working-class people to give birth against their will—against their consent, against their ability to provide for themselves or a child—is a profound economic issue,” she said.
“The idea that, that abortion and access to abortion is somehow not a profound and central economic and class issue and class struggle is certainly something that I think a person who’s never had to contend with the ability to carry a child...you know, it belies that perspective. And it’s disappointing to see.”
Here’s a (partial) clip:
Ocasio-Cortez also noted that forced pregnancies force people into working additional jobs to try to provide for their families. “It’s certainly a way to keep a workforce basically conscripted to large-scale employers, and to employers, to work more against their will, to take second and third jobs against their desire and their own autonomy,” she said, adding later on Twitter that “desperate workers are far easier to exploit.”
Conservative media outlets are predictably aghast at these comments, but she’s right—not only in that pushing people into poverty, or keeping them there, can make them accept what they can get in terms of wages and workplace safety standards, but that abortion bans writ large give companies another bargaining chip over their employees.
Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for governor, has also rightly noted that abortion is linked to the economy, when he recently said that his opponent, Doug Mastriano, would “inject chaos into the economy” if he signed an abortion ban into law.
Democrats: more of this, please!