Here we are, 40+ years after the historic decision of Roe v Wade, and the debate continues seemingly unchanged – Is abortion an infringement on the rights of the mother or the fetus? It is my opinion that the governmental system is absolutely the worst forum available to make a conclusion on this matter, and having attempted it once and experienced the consequent socio-political backlash , the courts and politicians have avoided taking any firm stance on the issue since. Therefore, if the current situation would be changed, it is necessary to look at it from a different perspective.
Why Do Abortions Happen?
Legal or not, abortions happen because there are women willing to go through with them. If the motivation for having an abortion could be removed, it could be an even more effective remedy than outlawing it. So let us start with an analysis of that motivation.
It seems obvious to me that along with a uterus, a woman is biologically programmed with compatible instincts, meaning that a woman is predisposed to nurture, and further, that over the course of a pregnancy, as she feels the sensation of her body physically nourishing the life growing within her, psychologically she is bonding with her as yet unborn child. Therefore, the conscious decision to act in a manner opposite to the powerful instincts of motherhood must result from extreme environmental conditions.
Imagine a young woman of the age of 13, legally limited to be no more that an observer to the adult world, dependent on others to make decisions regarding her future. Perhaps she has lived her whole life in a poor neighborhood with high crime rates, where her single mother is subsistent on the heartless, policy driven practices of inadequate government welfare agencies. Maybe she has lived at times in shelters, not knowing where her next meal will come from. She has learned from the media that the rising population of humanity is an anathema to the planet. At school she has heard from corporate recruiters that her only path to a better life is through doing well in her studies and getting a good job. Suddenly her 21 year old boyfriend, perhaps the first romantic relationship she has experienced, is arrested for drug related crime, leaving her pregnant and without support. Her family and friends counsel her to have an abortion. After all, what choice does she have?
Although this case is purely fictional, it exemplifies some of the environmental influences at work behind the decision to have an abortion. Today in America, children are seen as a burden, and perhaps our current socio-economic structure makes it seem so. Parents are primarily held responsible for the costs and care necessary for a dependent child to survive to adulthood, but receive much less of the benefits. However this situation is an artificial contrivance of modern society.
Are Children a Problem or a Solution?
In historic America, and in many cultures today, children are seen as a blessing. Without a 401K, children are a parent’s only retirement plan. In agrarian settings, more children means more hands to share the work. However, this dynamic began to change in America after the industrial revolution segregated the workforce. The change was complete after President Roosevelt introduced Social Security. Although in practice, children still pay for their parents retirement, the benefits are socialized, allowing childless retirees to “beat the system” by subsisting off the production of other people’s children.
Our current socio-economic structure gives opportunity for the lucrative business of abortion to step in and solve the problem of burdensome children, claiming they are a champion of women’s rights, freeing them from the involuntary servitude of motherhood. They are supposedly benefiting greater society as well, statistically lowering crime in poor neighborhoods by aborting future criminals.
In my opinion, crime is a societal disease, and disease is not cured by killing the patient. Furthermore, women are biologically programmed for motherhood, physically and emotionally, and to be fed propaganda that motherhood is somehow a problem to be eliminated, is an affront to the human right to dignity as a uniquely equipped contributor of a special and necessary component of the community.
Although the protection of women’s rights is central to the platform of the pro-choice movement, I find it hard to believe that when Susan B. Anthony was championing women’s suffrage, she was envisioning a future in which women would be compelled to work in an office cubicle all day instead of spending time with their children. What she and any person rightly would claim is the respect and compensation due them for the contribution they make to society. Is motherhood, then, not a valid contribution? (In fact, the idea that women should enter the workforce was part of a propaganda campaign championed by the fictional woman, Rosie the Riveter, in order to open up a new segment of the population to enslavement, aka employment.)
The government is dependent on the taxes paid by every working adult, each of which had a mother. The growing size of government seems to be a one way street and if the influx in revenue via a growing population of working adults, aka birthrate, does not keep up, then the government is bound to go into debt. But it seems that has already happened.
Without the influx of lower rung workers, leaving their mother’s arms for the work force, which is necessary to support the rise of more experienced workers up the corporate pyramid, the economy is bound to go into recession. But it seems that has already happened.
Without the new ideas and perspectives, perhaps even a cure for cancer, which would have been, brought by a generation who would have been, born to mothers who would have been, our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields are bound to suffer. But it seems that has already happened.
The lost benefits of our aborted human capital are much more than can be enumerated here. What is clear is that motherhood is a valuable vocation and should be remunerated accordingly.
Other advanced nations have already learned this lesson. For example, many nations offer paid parental leave for over a year, and many also offer a child allowance to assist with costs, regardless of the family’s poverty status.
The American Government, on the other hand, only offers three months of maternal leave, a few tax benefits and temporary, inadequate relief for cases of extreme poverty to those desperate enough to withstand the cultural condemnation of recipients as morally vacuous free riders. It is no wonder that abortion seems like the only choice.
The Politics Are Inconsistent
American women today are caught in the middle of an un-winnable struggle between conservatives and liberals. On the left, liberals tell women to take advantage of their right to an abortion to escape the involuntary servitude of motherhood for a fulfilling career, while simultaneously lobbying for welfare programs which provide incentives for women to do the opposite. Conversely, on the right, conservatives pressure women to respect the sanctity of life while simultaneously lobbying to diminish the welfare programs that would provide for women to care for their children. Whether this is an average case of political hypocrisy or a severe case of social schizophrenia, if the abortion controversy is to be resolved, these discordant messages must end. The same people who advocate for the fetal right to life must also take up the cause of women and advocate for maternal compensation. Then it will become obvious to all how ill formed is the idea that women can only be fulfilled and valued so far as they can imitate men.
I encourage you, the reader, to evaluate your political beliefs. The rights of women and of the unborn are not necessarily opposed. If we can agree on this perspective, then the legal system will begin to reflect this paradigm in time.
Written by Lowell Perry