Reproductive Rights are an Economic Issue, as Well as a Human Rights One
By Rachel Puryear
On this blog, I’ve previously discussed how eroding reproductive rights in much of the USA gravely threatens personal autonomy and freedom – see here and here and here for these discussions.
I’ve also discussed qualitative differences between economic classes beyond just numbers, and how people can build wealth only when they have enough to invest.
This post brings those two subjects together, and introduces how they intersect.
Over the years, politically speaking, there’s been an (increasingly obvious) rift amongst self-described liberals. Some believe that economic issues should be the main focus of activism. Meanwhile, others emphasize the importance of civil liberties like reproductive rights, as a non-expendable part and parcel of economic fairness and progressive advocacy.
I firmly agree with the latter camp, as a matter of principle. I do support and value fairer economic policies, but I also know that reproductive rights and other human rights are no less important.
In fact, I would even take it a step further – vigorous support of reproductive rights and other civil liberties is not only good, but essential for more just economic development broadly, and also for individual opportunities to build wealth and avoid poverty traps. Each reinforces the other, they’re not mutually exclusive.
Here’s a few basic reasons why:
Reproductive Autonomy Enables Improved Prosperity, While Lack of Choices Leads to Poverty Traps
Career development, and the ability to build wealth, start with a solid education that empowers and enables opportunity. This includes learning about managing finances.
Having unplanned children before one has the opportunity to build a career path prevents getting a good education – and that cuts off learning about career options, and establishing a viable means of building wealth while minimizing avoidable hardships.
People without access to good family planning services and autonomy to make their own childbearing decisions frequently get stuck in the underclass or lower class because of such lack of options. That goes especially for mothers and children. And again, the poorer classes are distinguished not just by low income, but also a lack of ability to save money to invest and build wealth over time.
Without a viable way to earn enough to build wealth, people remain trapped in poverty.
Reproductive Autonomy is Conducive to Good Health Across the Board
Woman practicing yoga and meditation. By Madison Lavern.
Even with uncomplicated pregnancies, where people start them in good health, they carry some degree of risk to well-being and life. That’s the case even for much-wanted pregnancies.
However, unwanted pregnancies and a lack of family planning pose an even significantly greater threat to life and health – physical and mental health – for mothers and their families than wanted pregnancies do.
That’s a big reason why so many mothers died from maternal causes before reliable birth control was common, and before women were commonly financially independent with the ability to leave unhealthy marriages (and in places and communities where women still totally lack these freedoms, maternal mortality remains quite high).
Where mothers die or suffer health problems due to unwanted pregnancy and unwilling childbirth; on top of their own suffering, the whole family suffers from that, too. There are likely other children in the family left without a mother, and a partner who is left behind and must care for the whole family alone.
Unwanted pregnancy and unwilling childbirth harms the overall economy, as well. More people die early or become unable to work due to health problems, businesses aren’t started, more jobs are lost, and more sick time is needed.
People are Sexual Beings, and Nothing Will Change That
Couple snuggling intimately on the bed. By Becca Tapert.
Inevitably, no matter how many logical, reasoned, evidence-based, humanitarian, and empathetic arguments you demonstrate for reproductive freedom (including removing financial and logistical barriers to such for all, as well as establishing lawfulness of bodily autonomy); there are always some who will knee-jerk to their religious/fascist response – well, people ought to just keep their legs closed, they say. Then they wouldn’t be faced with such a problem in the first place – right?
Wrong. People are inherently sexual beings, whether we’re actively trying to procreate or not. Societies wouldn’t have so many weird and cruel laws around sex between consenting adults if people readily just gave it up because it sometimes has unwanted results.
Nothing you can do will change that. No religion or belief system will ever change that, not even the threat of death will change that.
Sex isn’t just about reproduction, either – it is deeply social, and an important part of bonding in intimate relationships.
Accordingly, limiting reproductive choice only leads to impoverishment and suffering, while reproductive freedom enables prosperity and improved quality of life.
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Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to reproductive rights, personal autonomy and freedom, and better opportunities to build wealth and live a better life.
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