Hey, look, it’s two dudes who will never be pregnant discussing policies that only impact women. Really, New York Times, you couldn’t have found anyone other than William Saletan and the Beliefnet guy to discuss abortion rights and coercive economic polices?
The whole thing is so infuriating I’m having trouble coming up with a coherent response. Steven Waldman from Beliefnet suggests paying women some amount of money to not have an abortion — not just because women who continue pregnancies often undergo tremendous financial strain, but as an incentive for her to give the baby up for adoption. Nowhere does he suggest that maybe we should provide economic support for all women, before and after birth, so that they can choose to maintain their pregnancies and raise a child if they wish; the whole idea is to bribe women into giving birth so that they’ll give the baby to a nice family.
I suppose that’s where there’s always going to be a fundamental disconnect between pro- and anti-choicers. Pro-choicers are concerned with women first and foremost; providing economic support for women probably sounds great to most of us, while providing an economic incentive to give birth and put the baby up for adoption at least strikes me as deeply problematic — Waldman and Saletan even liken it to surrogacy, which is troubling. Many anti-choicers, on the other hand, aren’t honestly all that concerned with women, and consider them more like incubators than people — financial coercion to give birth and give the baby up for adoption, then, is a pretty fine idea. I’m very in favor of abortion prevention, but that’s because most women would rather avoid abortion if at all possible — we’d rather not get pregnant when we don’t want to be; we’d rather not have fetuses with abnormalities that are incompatible with life; we’d rather not have health-threatening pregnancies. There’s only so much we can do about fetal abnormalities and health issues. There’s quite a bit we can do to help women not get pregnant when they don’t want to be pregnant, and to help pregnant women who may want to have a child feel economically stable enough to do so. That’s the common ground between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. Unfortunately, pro-lifers aren’t exactly out there promoting birth control or an expansion of social welfare programs. Their big idea, apparently, is to just pay women if they promise to give their baby up for adoption — but not too much, as Waldman warns, as we would hate to provide an “incentive” for women to go out and have babies for money.
New York Times editors: I can give you a very long list of women who can discuss this issue more thoroughly and more intelligently than Waldman and Saletan, and who also have the special benefit of believing women are people. Call me.
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