Jun 13, 2022 - News

The cost of an abortion ban in Northwest Arkansas

Illustration of Supreme Court columns, with one replaced with a stack of quarters.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

While it's clear that an abortion ban in Arkansas would have a disproportionate effect on lower-income people, it's unclear what the overall economic impact to the state would be.

  • At least one study claims that restrictive reproductive health care policies, including an abortion ban, would cost the state $1.2 billion per year.
  • The Institute for Women's Policy Research used turnover rates and lost wages in its analysis.

Driving the news: A leaked draft opinion first published by Politico in May showed that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  • The court's final opinion is expected this month.

Why it matters: A so-called 2019 trigger law would effectively make abortion illegal in Arkansas if the landmark decision is overturned, directly impacting more than half of the state's population.

  • The measure prohibits abortion except to save the life of the mother. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
  • The law does not punish a woman for receiving an abortion, but anyone performing one could be fined up to $100,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both.

The impact: Axios reached out to a dozen employers, nonprofits and economic development offices across Arkansas.

  • Many participated in a January friend-of-the-court document against the state's effort to overturn a court ruling that blocks Arkansas' ban on gender-transition treatment for minors. Some of entities include: the Walton Family Foundation, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Northwest Arkansas Council.

None of the organizations, including Walmart and Tyson Foods, would comment on how an abortion ban could adversely affect their efforts to recruit global talent or organizations to relocate to Arkansas and help grow the state's economy.

What they're saying: "I'm skeptical that [abortion and transgender] policies would turn anybody away from the state because, you know, we're going to wind up having very similar policies as Florida, as Texas, and those are growth states," Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Axios in May.

  • "This is a difference of opinion in our country and every state is going to resolve these issues in different ways," he added.

Of note: None of the groups said they intend to offer employees any benefits or reimbursement for travel expenses for non-life-threatening medical treatments, including abortions, like Amazon pledged in May.

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