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Another Next Big Thing: Double Talent Pool by Easing South Dakota’s Abortion Restrictions

Our Governor has given up on looking for South Dakota’s Next Big Thing in favor of making herself MAGA Nation‘s next big thing, but hey, for you South Dakota officials still working on promoting our state’s economic development, does doubling our worker talent pool sound like a Next Big Thing?

South Dakota employers have been complaining for years that they are having trouble finding good help. We could improve our recruitment and retention of skilled, value-generating professionals if our state government would stop making it so hard for women to find reproductive health care:

Companies that already compete for top talent will find that the majority of employees will not be willing to relocate based on what lack of abortion access signals about the culture and politics of the state. Six in 10 women would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has tried to restrict access to abortion. And 54% of men ages 18 to 44 say they also would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has recently tried to restrict abortion access. A majority of women (56%) say they would not even apply to a job in a state that has recently banned abortion [Jim Doyle, C. Nicole Mason, and Jen Stark, “What Abortion Bans Could Mean in the War for Talent,” Fortune, 2021.06.10].

These authors cite a January 2020 report which in turn cites a 2017 analysis that found that when we treat women better, women do better for themselves, their local economies, and their state budgets:

  • Women living in states with a better reproductive health care climate—including insurance coverage of contraceptive drugs and services; expanded Medicaid eligibility for family-planning services; insurance coverage of infertility treatments; and the availability of state-supported public funding for medically necessary abortions—have higher earnings and face less occupational segregation compared with women living in states that have more limited reproductive health care access.
  • Women in states with robust reproductive health care climates also are less likely to work part time, giving them more opportunity for higher earnings; nonwage benefits such as access to paid sick days and paid leave; and greater promotion opportunities.
  • Reproductive rights and health care access also reduce job lock, or the lack of labor mobility between jobs. Women who live in states with positive indicators of reproductive health care access, as measured by publicly available funding for abortion, are more likely to transition between occupations and from unemployment into employment. On the other hand, women in states with more limited abortion access, as measured by the presence of targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, are less likely to make these transitions.

Together, these findings start to paint a picture that shows how certain economic outcomes are connected to a woman’s ability to access the full range of reproductive health care services. Furthermore, the findings help clarify that women cannot achieve economic progress without securing greater autonomy to direct their futures [Kate Bahn, Adriana Kugler, Melissa Mahoney, Danielle Corley, and Annie McGraw, “Linking Reproductive Health Care Access to Labor Market Opportunities for Women,” Center for American Progress, 2017.11.21].

Access to abortion, contraception, and other women’s health services is vital to women’s economic prosperity. Women (and the men who respect them) know that and will make personal employment decisions on the basis of employers’ and states‘ willingness to provide and protect that access. By not providing and protecting that health care access, South Dakota is depriving itself right out of the gate of half of the young talent that could come fire up our economy.


  1. Guy 2021-06-13 12:08

    The biggest reason why we can not attract workers in South Dakota: NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING AVAILABLE. In Spearfish and Rapid City there are currently no apartments available, you have to get on a waiting list. So, the politicians can scream all they want about “lazy people,”…but that will not solve the problem of a lack of workers. No homes = no workers.

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-06-13 13:22

    Ah, back in the day Corey, Planned Parenthood was in Aberdeen, real close to where you could get Chicago Pizza. They didn’t do abortions but you could get a referral. They did have everything else related to reproductive healthcare. Sad how the state has become so ignorant, the pizza place is gone too.

  3. jerry 2021-06-13 14:11

    Women also don’t want republican men looking at their children’s genitalia. South Dakota republican men are obsessed with checking out what is in the pants of children.

  4. mike from iowa 2021-06-13 14:38

    Jerry, I wondered about a rumor going around claiming certain magats salivated at the sight of discount store ads, children’s clothes, half off. I have no idea.

  5. Guy 2021-06-13 15:29

    No affordable housing in South Dakota = No additional workers in South Dakota. I now rest my case on this thread.

  6. Edwin A Arndt 2021-06-13 16:07

    I seriously doubt that all the women in South Dakota
    vote for democrats. A lot of the commenters seem to forget
    that these republican men were elected, in many cases by
    sizable margins.

  7. Jake 2021-06-13 16:16

    It’s widely known among people in South Dakota with a desire to know/learn more real news about the world around them than the main street media provides, that powers that be (GOP) WANT South Dakota to be another Mississippi of the North. Otherwise, over the past 4 decades of governance, the state would be more appealing to something other than tourists looking for a good time;
    a. Wages suck, employers don’t value the worker.
    b. Very restrictive abortion laws/stringent Medicaid
    c. Corporations on the adored altar
    e. Housing limited-controlled by money-grubbers
    f. Phony in governor’s chair
    g. An AG who should be in jail
    h. the list could go on and on, but you get my point.

    (I must be masochistic; lived here all my life.

  8. Mark Anderson 2021-06-13 16:28

    I Checked Edwin and nobody even referred to or mentioned the sizable margins of Republican men.

  9. cibvet 2021-06-13 16:51

    Edwin Arndt is correct about voting for the pubs. Both men and women have the condition. Its called the Stockholm Syndrome. They just cannot break away from their republican abusers.

  10. Porter Lansing 2021-06-13 19:06

    There’s a sizable conflict at the core of women’s reproductive choices in South Dakota.

    On on side … Access to abortion, contraception, and other women’s health services is vital to women’s economic prosperity.

    On the other is the almighty Roman Catholic Church which tells it’s faithful what to think.

    Those faithful control the levers of power in Pierre and make laws that non-Catholic people must live by.

    Sorry, ladies. You don’t have a choice!! Except to move to MN or CO. You’re welcome here, with the choices all people are entitled to.

  11. John Dale 2021-06-14 05:21

    Abortion is murder. Contraception is not.

    Contraception is widely available in SD.

    Don’t be a science denier.

  12. mike from iowa 2021-06-14 08:14

    Not so fast, Johnny Rabbit Hole….

    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all preventive care, including birth control, is covered by health insurance with no additional cost. But South Dakota politicians have chosen not to expand Medicaid, and as a result, thousands of South Dakotans still lack health care coverage.

    In South Dakota, legislators have done nothing to stop pharmacists from refusing to administer birth control prescriptions and emergency contraceptives if they choose not to, based on personal beliefs. This blocks women’s access to their basic and necessary health care.

    No new legislation on contraception is expected this session, but the fight continues to protect Medicaid funding so that more South Dakotans, regardless of income, can have access to birth control.

    Near as I can tell this is from 2021. mfi

  13. Jake 2021-06-14 12:30

    Methinks there wouldn’t be all this anti-abortion craziness in the GOP (and Catholic Church) if men shared the task of carrying a fetus in their belly 9 months and delivering it!

  14. Mark Anderson 2021-06-14 14:58

    Gosh John Dale, after abortion your friends go after birth control and often intentionally confuse the two. Do just a little research ok?

  15. Porter Lansing 2021-06-14 18:54

    -Access to abortion, contraception, and other women’s health services is vital to women’s economic prosperity.

    -Denial of women’s right is vital to the Catholic Church’s economic prosperity.

  16. bearcreekbat 2021-06-15 00:50

    It would seem some folks actually value the right of privacy in reproduction decisions and prefer not to cede power to the State to make such intimate decisions for each individual. To the extent voters in SD choose to give up that riight of privacy and defer to the government to decide who must remain pregnant, voters have opened the door for the loss of privacy for numerous otherwise intimate and private decions. The loss of the right of privacy in reproductive choices will empower government agents to:

    – deny someone medical help with reproduction complications;
    – prohibit or require contraception;
    – mandate involuntary sterization; and
    – mandate the termination of an unauthorized pregnancy.

    Any person that actually values the right of privacy to make such intimate reproductive decisions themselves would naturally want to avoid states like SD where such a right of privacy is gradually being removed from all residents of the state. Obviously, the loss of the right of reproductive privacy dfiscourages people that desire freedom from government control over such intimate matters from living and working in SD.

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