In the mind of America’s pro-choice movement, the sky is always falling.
Women are always a stone’s throw away from a “Handmaid’s Tale” world — their bodies and destinies firmly under the control of the patriarchy. I would almost admire their political skill at provoking panic and division if it didn’t come at such a huge cost to women, and of course to children.
Whether taking aim at Texas’ heartbeat law, or the Mississippi legislation currently before the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the pro-choice message is always the same: Children spell the end of women’s freedom and opportunity.
Without an unlimited right to abortion, women will be denied “equal citizenship,” or the capacity to “participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation.”
This conclusion is not only empirically falsifiable but also broadly undercuts the public and private support women and children need to exist and thrive in an economy that is unkind or even oblivious to the needs of caregivers.
The conclusion is falsifiable beginning with a brief review of the dozens of laws demanding equal opportunity for women both before and after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
These include, inter alia, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and many others both assuring women a level playing field and granting them access to generous federal grants and contracts and benefits at a record pace.
Myriad Supreme Court decisions handed down during this period of time also provided women opportunities previously denied them.
Women took advantage of these opportunities in droves. In the words of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey:
“Surely it is dubious to suggest that women have reached their ‘places in society’ in reliance upon Roe, rather than as a result of their determination to obtain higher education and compete with men in the job market, and of society’s increasing recognition of their ability to fill positions that were previously thought to be reserved only for men.”
Empirical measures of women’s social and economic progress also falsify the pro-choice narrative.
While it is true that during the later 1970s and ’80s — a post-Roe period that also witnessed a flurry of sex-equality legislation and Supreme Court opinions — women’s participation in educational and employment arenas improved, it is also true that these reached even greater heights during the period from 1990 to today when abortion rates (abortion per 1000 women of childbearing age) and ratios (abortions per pregnancies) were plummeting.
For example, from 1990 to 2016, abortion rates declined from 345 to 186, and abortion ratios fell from 24 percent to 11.6 percent. During this same period, however, the percentage of women in the workforce with a college degree or more rose from 24.5 percent to 41.6 percent.
Women also earned an increasing percentage of men’s income, rising from 70.9 to 81.9 cents per men’s dollar. In 1997 the number of women-owned businesses was 5.4 million, or 26 percent of all U.S. businesses. By 2017, women owned 11.1 million businesses, or 39 percent of all privately held firms.
The increase in businesses owned by women of color was even more spectacular: Over 20 years of declining abortion rates, businesses owned by women of color grew at a rate of 467 percent.
Women’s already high college enrollment also continued to climb during this period of sharply declining abortion rates and ratios — from 54.5 to 56.5 — and women’s enrollment in law schools grew from 47.4 percent in 1990 to 52 percent in 2016.
Finally, women’s representation in state and federal government, including as judges, rose markedly during this period of sharp declines in abortion rates and ratios: In state government, women moved from 1324 to 1877 positions; in the federal government, from 31 to 108; and on the federal bench, from 74 to 355.
Pro-choice provocateurs not only ignore these inconvenient truths but push the line that women and children are locked in a brutal zero-sum game — a game in which women must be left alone with their “private choices” to figure out how to survive.
This messaging not only blights male-female relationships by severing sex from “tomorrow” but also confirms public and private actors’ inclinations to avoid making accommodations for women with children in educational and work settings.
In other words, under the guise of women’s rights, “equality arguments” for abortion suggest that women are intrinsically impaired by their capacity to bear children.
They promote the childless male as the norm. Now that’s something to panic over.
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