|The Right Questions: Part Five
||[Apr. 8th, 2011|08:51 pm]
How does social conservatism--and specifically what many of us are calling the war on women--impact the national debt? Republicans came into office trumpeting about the national debt, and are still doing that...but in the process they have clamped down on women, by (for instance) attacking Planned Parenthood, trying to eliminate legal abortion, and coming up with the (ridiculous) notion that making birth control hard to get will reduce the number of abortions women want. But really...does birth control make the national debt higher? How? Do women who have lots of babies make the national debt lower? How?
The contrary could be (not claiming it is) true: women who are not having children they don't want are more able to enter the workforce. They aren't burdened with caring for multiple children, trying to get time off to take the kids to the doctor, etc. They're probably earning more money....and thus they're paying more taxes (whether married or not, a woman with few or no children is likely to earn more than a woman with many.) Paying more taxes leads to more federal income, and thus (potentially at least) lowers national debt. You would think fiscal conservatives would want more people working, and more people paying taxes, at least until the national debt is where they think it should be.
The war on women seeks to control women--specifically to make it likely that they will bear children, and unlikely that they can avoid it or limit the number. It treats women as less than human...unable to make their own decisions about their own bodies and reproduction. When a pregnant woman in Iowa tripped and fell on the stairs after an argument with her husband, and went to the hospital to see if her fetus was all right, she was reported to the police and arrested on suspicion of feticide. (I would have been questioning the husband: did he push her down the stairs? My mother was pushed down stairs when pregnant with me--not by my father, but by his mother.) When a woman in Arizona was in danger of dying if she continued a nonviable pregnancy, the Catholic bishop there insisted that they both should have died rather than she live via an abortion...even though that would have left her other children without a mother. That's treating women as less than human--of less worth than a nonviable fetus. When the GOP attacks birth control, including abortion, they are not merely attacking women's health....they are attacking women's right to education, employment, and economic advancement.
A woman who bears a child is expected to parent that child until it is grown, no matter what state of health that child is in. That's a minimum of 18 years, on top of the months of pregnancy, that society expects that woman to make that child her primary concern. Anyone who thinks that does not impact a woman's chance at higher education, at employment, at economic advancement is simply ignorant: pregnancy and childcare imposes extra labor at every stage along the way and makes it harder for a woman to do the work necessary for a college degree and a good-paying job. In a nation that supposedly values personal choice, and then holds the individual responsible for that choice...should not having a child be a matter of choice, not chance? And should not society do what it can to make that choice easier, and not harder?
The social conservatives spend a lot of bandwidth and air time and so on proclaiming how precious every life is....as long as it's in some woman's womb. The unborn are precious...and the unborn cost them no money. You can deny services (from nutritional support to prenatal care to job training) to the pregnant woman while telling yourself that she's an adult and should be "responsible"...and ignore the effect on that fetus. Actual out-of-the-womb citizens--from newborns on up--cost money to bring to a healthy, productive adulthood...and that's money the social conservatives are unwilling to spend. In state after state, for instance, programs to provide medical care to poor children are not meeting the need because...they aren't funded. Schools are poorly funded, preschools even worse.
I find this hypocritical. If the social conservatives were truly "pro-life" rather than "anti-woman" they would be eager to make the best possible environment for all--adults and children, male and female--and they would recognize that such organizations as Planned Parenthood (which provides far more than birth control) have been, and are still, and will be until a decent health care system is in place, a necessary part of providing women with both health care and choices. They would be willing to spend on improving the lot of the poor, including the absurd and obscene 25% of US children who live below the poverty line...they would support excellent schools for all, decent housing for all, jobs for all, medical care for all, instead of focusing their narrow vision on the months of pregnancy.
But back to the questions to ask. Why attack birth control and women's health when the declared real problem is the national debt? How exactly is birth control supposed to be contributing to the national debt? How exactly is forcing women to bear children they don't want going to lower the national debt? How is it going to create jobs? (Especially since the things children need, that might create jobs--like schools, libraries, parks, playgrounds--are also on the conservative hit list.) Birth control is a lot cheaper than pregnancy and 18 years of child-rearing. What has controlling women--making them less able to contribute economically, forcing them into economic dependency--got to do with reducing the national debt? Or creating jobs? .
Here's a site that lays out the Republican policy more clearly than others I'd seen. Notice that the tax cuts are all for the high income brackets...nothing for those already in dire need through job loss. There is no plan for creating jobs...that's supposed to happen magically....though if it were going to work it would have worked other times.
Does this make sense? I sure don't think so.