Blog Posts

Equality for women cannot depend on abortion

Braver Angels, an organization dedicated to facilitating discussion on difficult and divisive issues, held a debate on December 2 titled Resolved: Women’s Equality Requires Access to Abortion.

All Our Lives, of course, stands in opposition to this resolution. Although time limits prevented reading it fully, this was co-founder Jen Roth’s statement.

Support for the affirmative position in this debate is more commonly associated with the left. But—and I’m coming at this more from the left side myself—I think there is an inconsistency in this position.

In general, the left is more aware of the economic and social pressures that can constrain decisions that are supposedly free. For instance, economic libertarians argue that minimum wage laws, for instance, are anti-worker because employers would create more jobs if they didn’t have to pay more than they think a job is worth. Thus, they say, these laws actually prevent people who would rather have a $3/hour job than no job from getting them.

But a leftist would argue that the person working in dangerous conditions or for poverty wages isn’t doing that because they’ve made a free choice among multiple viable options. They’re doing it because they need money to live and thus don’t really have much of a choice. That’s why leftists argue for minimum wage laws, worker protections, universal basic income and other measures that mean workers don’t have to make that choice. To someone on the left, never having to make a choice between a bad job and starvation is fundamental to a pro-worker society. I believe that this analysis should also be applied to abortion.

There’s another comparison I could make. Before I start, I would ask participants to remember that, no matter what their own views are, the idea of having an abortion is repugnant to many women because they see it as killing a human being. With that in mind, suppose a woman were required to have sex with her boss or landlord to keep her job or afford her housing. Would we consider justice done if we secured her right to do so? Would anyone be referring to this as economic justice? Of course not, because even if the woman might otherwise be interested in sleeping with that person, it should never be a requirement. I hope we would never say that the right of a woman to participate in society is dependent on whether she can sleep with a person who has power over her. I hope anyone would be enraged at the suggestion that their rights are contingent on that. But we hear over and over that abortion is needed because, for instance, poor women won’t be able to get out of poverty without it—and that’s supposed to be pro-woman.

There’s a reason that major corporations and Hollywood are tripping over themselves to prove how committed they are to abortion, and it’s not because they’re feminist. It’s because it’s a whole lot more money and trouble to pay for parental leave and deal with getting a temporary replacement for a worker on leave and provide for nursing moms and change shooting schedules to accommodate a pregnant actress.

When I hear someone say that equality requires abortion, it doesn’t sound like a call to liberation. It sounds like despair. It sounds like giving up.

Blog Posts

Eugenics never ended

US society talks a good game about the sacredness of motherhood, but there’s a long history in this country of seeing certain women’s fertility as a threat. The women who don’t need to be having any more children because they’re too poor or too disabled or too melanated or just not “us”. The children who will be welfare dependents or “idiots” or criminals or “anchor babies”.

That’s why the news that women in ICE custody have had hysterectomies performed on them against their will, though shocking, wasn’t surprising.

We don’t yet know the full details of what happened. It appears that the doctor who performed the hysterectomies may have been committing insurance fraud. It’s also possible, even likely, that some of them had real uterine health conditions. Either way, had the people given power over these women perceived their fertility to have any value, they would have been treated differently. They would have been informed of their condition, if any, and given treatment options.

But these were just immigrant women, “illegals,” whom the president and his supporters have decided this country doesn’t need any more of. Some people solve that problem with a wall; others, with a scalpel.