If you ask a conservative which woman is the poster child for abortion, I suspect they would say it was a sexually irresponsible teenager who had a one-night stand or short-term relationship. Got pregnant. And now thoughtlessly wants to dispose of the consequences of her ill-considered actions — so she can get back to a life of casual partying. They would be wrong. The reality is the vast majority of women who get abortions are over twenty. And more tellingly, 59% of them already have a child.
The idea that a woman seeking an abortion is the act of a flibbertigibbet looking to avoid the inconvenience of motherhood does not stand up in the face of the evidence. But it does raise the question. Why do women, who have become mothers, now decide to terminate a pregnancy? Overwhelmingly, the evidence suggests it is that they are economically unable to have more children than the ones they already have. A half (49%) of all abortions are by women under the federal poverty line. And another 26% are women who are between 100%-199% of the poverty level.
And that is why anti-abortion laws in many cases are child abuse. Forcing a woman to have a child that she lacks the resources to raise — often even with the father still in the picture — consigns not only that child to a life of deprivation but also worsens the outcomes for any child or children she already has. Raising a child is expensive. When your income is limited, the more children you have the more dire the prospects are for all of them. The more they are hungry. The more they are left alone while both parents work. The more they lack the irreplaceable time the very young spend with parents. As cruel as it is to the mother, it is that much worse for a kid who doesn’t understand.
All abortions stem from one cause. They end unwanted pregnancies. And why are pregnancies unwanted? It could be they are the product of rape or incest. Perhaps the mother is too young to have the emotional responsibility to raise a child. Or maybe, the unfortunate fetus suffers a grievous genetic abnormality. But most abortions are unwanted because the woman doesn’t have the support to raise more children. She works a low-paying job. She doesn’t have access to affordable child care. She can’t afford a car and spends hours on public transit.
It doesn’t have to be like that. In most first-world countries, the citizens agree that there should be a solid social floor. Regardless of anyone’s circumstances, they should be guaranteed a place to live and that there are enough resources to raise a child without the stress of food insecurity (a fancy way of saying that most advanced countries think it is unconscionable for a child to go hungry). And work should pay a decent wage.
And that isn’t the end of it. From that floor, these first-world countries provide a ladder that allows any of their children to advance. They offer paid parental leave when the kid needs their parents the most. Access to daycare. By providing free or deeply subsidized higher education. And by a more equitable division of wealth and net income. Let’s note these countries have plenty of rich people. The only difference is those at the bottom aren’t as poor as Americans on the bottom rung.
Americans extol the opportunities expressed by the idea of the ‘American dream’. But like so much conservative propaganda it is not supported by the facts. Children in America are more likely to stay in the economic stratum they were born into than many other countries. The World Economic Forum publishes the Global Social Mobility Index. It ranks the ability of children born in 82 countries to ‘get ahead’. America ranks 27th — behind almost every industrial country. The first 12 places go to the usual Western European democracies conservatives love to falsely scorn as ‘socialist paradises’.
And this leads to another anti-abortion argument conservatives throw around to muddy the waters, that abortion is Black genocide. Although most Blacks support abortion, some Black anti-abortionists look at the statistics showing that Black women get abortions at a higher rate than white women and call it racism. White anti-abortionists have been happy to sign on to the belief. I can understand why Blacks are leery after four centuries of persecution in America, but the white anti-abortionists are just cynics.
If abortion is an economic decision, then it gives the Black abortion rate some perspective. Blacks on average have fewer financial resources than whites. And I think an analysis of abortion that considered not just race but economic circumstances would find rich Blacks have abortions at the same rate as rich whites. And poor Blacks at the same rate as poor whites. The Black abortion rate is inflated, only because there are relatively more poor Blacks.
A well-worn observation has it that conservatives are only pro-life from conception to birth — well worn because, like most cliches, it is true. These sanctimonious gits are only too happy to see a child born into suffering, but God forbid they raise a finger to help or pay a red cent to support that child. Two facts destroy their claim that all life is sacred. First, they may love the fetal heartbeat, but once the precious angel starts breathing they are on their own. And second, they ignore the fact that, according to the Mayo Clinic, “About 10 to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant.” Which makes their guiding light, God, nature’s most prolific abortionist. It’s a classic case of “do what I say, not what I do”.