Weird How Anti-Choicers Never Seem To Want To Make Giving Birth Free
This week, as you likely know by now, Texas essentially banned abortion. Or, at least, they banned abortion for poor people by giving citizens the right to sue anyone who gives someone else money for an abortion or drives them to a clinic. Rich people will not be impacted at all. In fact, in all likelihood, there will probably be the same number of abortions in Texas, because banning them does not eliminate the need for them, and because banning abortion does not actually reduce abortion.
As Zara Ahmed of the Guttmacher Institute points out, "The data shows that abortion rates are roughly the same in countries where abortion is broadly legal and in countries where it isn't. And abortion rates are actually four times higher in low-income countries where abortion is prohibited than in high-income countries where it is broadly legal." Studies show that the Mexico City Policy, which prevented federal dollars from being used to fund family planning clinics overseas if said clinics so much as mention that abortion exists, led to a 40 percent increase in abortions in sub-Saharan African countries. As abortion and family planning clinics tend to go hand in hand, decreased access to abortion often means decreased access to birth control, which — surprise! — tends to lead to more abortion.
One would think that people who are so incredibly desperate to reduce abortions, due to their great love of fetuses, would pay attention to things like this. But oddly enough, they have absolutely no interest in what is or is not known to actually be effective in terms of reducing the number of abortions.
What does lead to fewer abortions? Well, birth control for one. Obviously. Increased access to birth control leads to lower abortion rates. But for some strange reason, you don't see a lot of these people championing free and easily accessible birth control. In fact, you are more likely to hear them pushing to make that illegal as well, and claiming that it "causes" abortions.
Similarly, one might also note that comprehensive sex-ed is known to be far, far more effective in terms of reducing teen pregnancy than "abstinence-only education" is. Not only does abstinence-only education not do anything to prevent teen pregnancy, it has been known to increase the likelihood of teen pregnancy in areas where it is practiced. Unwanted pregnancies are certainly a leading cause of abortion, and so you would think that they would be big fans of comprehensive sex-ed, but that does not tend to be the case.
Awkwardly, Texas teens won't be learning about condoms until next year.
If I wanted to reduce something, the first thing I would look at is why that thing happens in the first place. The number one reason people have abortions is that they are not financially prepared to have children. (Or more children, as the case often is.) The average cost of giving birth in a hospital, with insurance, is $4,500. Without insurance, that number goes up to about $30,000 for a vaginal birth, $50,000 for a C-section. And that's literally just the giving birth part, not any of the other doctor's visits or other costs associated with simply being pregnant.
Then let's say they keep the baby. The average cost of childcare for one year is about $9,000 to $15,000. The average cost of any kid, without childcare, is about $12,980. Someone working full time at the federal minimum wage makes $15,080 a year.
According to the USDA, the average cost of raising a child born in 2015 will be $233,610 and that does not even include college.
With costs like these, it is absolutely astonishing that anyone chooses to procreate, period. And yet, you do not really see anti-choice Republicans saying "Hey! What if we made it totally free to give birth in this country?" because that would be communism. Same with subsidized childcare, subsidized public college, affordable housing, or literally anything else that would make "choosing life" less of a financially devastating option.
In fact, many of those on the Right have been very open about the fact that one of the reasons they don't want subsidized childcare is because they want women to stay at home and raise children instead of having jobs. Which, given the costs I have just listed, doesn't seem like an option even for many of those who would want it.
The fact is, the anti-choice dream is not necessarily all about "fewer abortions." What they want is a society where people are not having non-procreative sex, where they settle down and get married and have children at a younger age, and where women don't work as much because they have to stay home with all of the babies they made. They want the opportunity to see certain stories play out — the young couple saving themselves for marriage, the mother told that giving birth will kill her bravely sacrificing her own life for her unborn child, the whore repenting after having to "face the consequences" of her actions, the formerly selfish woman whose behavior was corrected when she had to put her new child's needs before her own.
How do I know this? Because these are the romanticized "Well they can just ..." stories that anti-choicers tell whenever someone brings up the actual harm an abortion ban would bring. They don't care that abortion bans are not effective, because what they are actually invested in is getting to live in the kind of society where they would be.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse