Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen claimed Tuesday that the Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade “would have very damaging effects on the economy.” Like the Confederates who settled on an economic argument to defend slavery rather than justify such a travesty on the principle of personhood, Yellen is not only avoiding a moral defense of the morally indefensible, but she is also demonstrably wrong.

Experts may disagree about what problem ailing our economy is specifically the worst, but most will likely agree that one is exacerbating all of the top candidates: a contracting labor force. Not only has an exodus of workers from the job market in general depressed our economic output and contributed to supply chain slow-downs inflaming inflation, but a wave of retirees, including those who expedited their retirement amid COVID regulations, is continuing to catapult the economy toward an insurmountable debt crisis. Population growth generally promulgates aggregate economic growth, but especially in an entitlement state such as ours, an at-replacement birth rate is crucial to avoid a deficit crisis. Social Security and Medicare, together the greatest drivers in the growth of our national debt and deficit, are structured as de facto Ponzi schemes, and as such, both require birth rates to sustain enough workers to fund entitlement recipients.

The morality of the abortion question aside, the available data would belie the claim that limiting abortion access would prove damaging to the economy. In fact, the reverse is likely true if only because abortion continues to constrict the growth of the workforce artificially with very little net benefit.

Freakonomics first popularized the (eventually well-founded) argument that access to abortion did indeed reduce the crime rate of a local population over time, but revisiting and further corroborating the study, Steven Leavitt conceded that viewing abortion as a utilitarian benefit to society was an “awful trade-off” for those valuing unborn lives as equivalent to those already born. He and fellow economist John Donohue estimate that “maybe there are 5,000 or 10,000” fewer homicides because of the more than half a million abortions performed annually. Perhaps the absence of abortion really would have forced more women out of the workplace since the Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade, but it’s possible that the net effect wouldn’t be so bad at all. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found in 2017 that married mothers of minor children have a labor force participation rate of 69% versus one of 77% for unmarried ones, meaning that in the immediate, the labor force may not have contracted too much, and in the long run, those unabated children would become workers continuing the solvency of our entitlements.

Mind you, in the long run, the debt crisis is made an even larger crisis than the inflation crisis, specifically because of how inflation compounds upon the interest on our national debt.

Think of your own credit card payments. Most consumers are capable of generating a good deal of debt under a given credit limit so long as payment minimums are met in full and on time. Up until then, the pain is the payment on interest, a substantial burden but not one with many externalities to the borrowing power of a consumer — that is, until payments on interest become so great that minimum payments are not met, causing a credit score to tank.

As of last year, the amount of money required to pay interest off of our national debt comprised just 1.4% of our annual economic output, but within the decade, the Congressional Budget Office projects that share will nearly double and, by the second half of the century, should eat up 9% our of gross domestic product.

This projection becomes even more devastating when considering that the last time inflation was this bad, Paul Volcker had to keep interest rates well into the double digits for years. But not only have we lacked a Fed chair with the willingness to initiate the short-term pain of rate heights for the long-term security of crushing inflation, but we also have to grapple with excess money supply generated by the (failed) decadelong experiment of quantitative easing.

All of that is to say that the CBO’s projections have nowhere to go but up given that even now, interest rates remain at historic lows. As the Fed is forced to continue rate hikes — Jerome Powell would like a pat on the back for finally instituting a half-point hike earlier this month — interest payments on our national debt could grow to a share of the double digits of our GDP.

The slavery argument I first mentioned introduces facets to this debate we cannot even yet quantify. Contrary to the contemporaries who justified slavery as an economic benefit to the country, economists today note that the institution prevented the South from modernizing and industrializing its economy in the way the North did. Slavery may have actually rendered “King Cotton” less majestic than a free labor force would have given slavery’s structural discouragement of immigration.

Who knows all the societal ways abortion limits our own economic growth? Perhaps those would-be criminals who escaped abortion would not have become criminals at all had the Supreme Court not normalized abortion and thus men the cultural allowance to abandon the women they impregnate. Would a culture of more motherhood force employers to adapt and grow more accepting of mothers balancing their home lives with their careers?

In any case, constricting the population is rarely a good economic argument, especially as the ratio of Social Security workers to recipients plummets from 3-to-1 to 2-to-1.