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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-11 04:32 PM
Original message
Abortion Rights, Labor and the Left
The San Francisco Chronicle printed a cartoon in the opinion page on July 18 showing teachers, social workers and public sector workers under attack, with the caption Attacking public sector workers is attacking women. I mentioned it to my wife and asked her where the feminists were? She said they were probably overwhelmed fighting for reproductive rights.

While the fight for womens reproductive and health rights is important, I would argue that it is one of many struggles that would benefit from greater worker power. Do we simply want women to have the right and access to an unpleasant medical procedure or to have improved overall social and economic status, wellbeing and health? There are certainly times when an abortion is necessary for the health or survival of the mother. There are also times when it is an economic necessity. However, the vast majority of abortions and unintended pregnancies occur among lower income women. This is due to a number of factors, including worse overall health and nutrition, which increase the chances of a medically necessary abortion, while poverty decreases access to perinatal care and contraceptives. Also, while affluent women have far fewer unintended pregnancies, they are much more likely to be able to provide materially for their children, decreasing the need for abortion.

Therefore, by elevating womens economic power, we would significantly increase their health and material security, thus reducing the need for abortions in the first place. This ought to be the goal for many additional reasons, too. By increasing womens economic status, we necessarily improve the health and educational outcomes for their children, who will be more likely to be born at a healthy weight and time, receive adequate nutrition and healthcare, and avoid much of the familial stress that accompanies financial insecurity. Each of these would decrease the number of children with cognitive impairments and learning disabilities. However, in order to improve womens economic status, we need a strong labor movement that has the power to demand higher wages, better health care, and safer working conditions for all workers.

There is another reason why workers power should be at the very top of the progressive agenda. Workers have the most powerful weapon available for achieving most progressive goalsthe strike. Petitions, demonstrations, letter-writing sometimes have a little influence on a few policy-makers, but they do not put any real pressure on them. The one thing that does pressure the ruling class is a threat to their profits, a threat that can most effectively be carried out when workers refuse to work or engage in other forms of direct action that slow down production. Therefore, a strong and militant labor movement is necessary for the rest of the left to achieve its goals, including the protection of womens reproductive and health rights. In a July 18 interview on KPFAs Letters From Washington,

Ralph Nadar said that Obama doesnt have to listen to progressives because they have no bargaining power. In other words, he doesnt need their votes (or, expects hell get their votes anyway) and they are too weak to gum up the cogs of capitalism, thus posing no threat to his ability to raise funds or maintain his current support. The left can whine and complain about his appointment to the consumer protection agency, war mongering, capitulations to Wall Street, and abandonment of the poor and working class, but what are they really do about it?

Returning to the cartoon in the Chronicle it, is important to recognize that an attack on public sector workers is not just an attack on women. It is an attack on all of us, as it lowers overall wages and material security and decreases the quality and availability of public services upon which we all depend. Similarly, any attack on womens reproductive rights is also an attack on all of us as it weakens womens status in society, decreases their social and physical independence, and helps to perpetuate poverty, each of which has social costs for everyone. When women are devalued in society, when anyone is devalued or has lesser rights or protections, it increases the vulnerability of each of us.

The basis of solidarity is the recognition that we are all in it together, that an injury to one is an injury to all. Not one of us can truly be free if any one of us is economically or socially deprived. When workers start to live by this truth, instead of pitting themselves against other workers, they will unite to fight for the wellbeing of all workers, not just to obtain better working conditions and wages, but for all the good things in life, including adequate healthcare and nutrition, a clean environment, control over their working conditions and an end to the wage system itself.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/abortion-right...
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-11 06:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. You have some things off here.
Do we simply want women to have the right and access to an unpleasant medical procedure or to have improved overall social and economic status, wellbeing and health?

We want women to have the right and access to medical procedures. Having the right and access will help improve their overall social and economic status by letting THEM chose when or if to bear a child. It will help improve their wellbeing and health for the same reason. Being able to have this control over their bodies is NECESSARY for women to be able to commit themselves to schooling and jobs without having to take breaks for childbearing and will increase their ability to be economically and socially comparable to men. Reproductive control=increased economic, social, health status.


in order to improve womens economic status, we need a strong labor movement that has the power to demand higher wages, better health care, and safer working conditions for all workers.
True. But we also need the right and access to contraception including abortion as THIS will ensure they are able to compete.

There are certainly times when an abortion is necessary for the health or survival of the mother. There are also times when it is an economic necessity. However, the vast majority of abortions and unintended pregnancies occur among lower income women. This is due to a number of factors, including worse overall health and nutrition, which increase the chances of a medically necessary abortion, while poverty decreases access to perinatal care and contraceptives. Also, while affluent women have far fewer unintended pregnancies, they are much more likely to be able to provide materially for their children, decreasing the need for abortion.

The reason for an abortion is between the woman and her health care provider. That is it. Period. There are many reasons beyond "health or survival of the" woman (who is NOT a "mother" merely by being pregnant). there are many reasons beyond "economic necessity" and those reasons are NONE of your business. Unless you are the pregnant woman.

"However, the vast majority of abortions and unintended pregnancies occur among lower income women." Link to that assertion is needed please. Once you show me a link from a reputable source, I will address this.

I am not sure why you posted this here, seems more for the Labor forum.


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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-11 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. Abortions, Unintended Pregnancies and Wealth
The vast majority of abortions and unintended pregnancies occur among lower income women. 42% of women obtaining abortions have incomes below the federal poverty level, according to the Guttmacher Institute, while 27% have incomes between 100% and 200% of the poverty level ($10,000-20,000 per year for a single woman with no children). Thus, 69% of women obtaining abortions could be considered poor or low income. The abortion rate for poor women has been growing, too, over the past decade, while the rate for affluent women has been declining. Furthermore, the Guttmacher Institute reports that 75% of women who obtain abortions cite inability to afford a child as one of the reasons for having the procedure. Lower income women also tend to have worse overall health and nutrition, which increases the chances of a medically necessary abortion, while poverty decreases access to perinatal care and contraceptives. Also, while affluent women have far fewer unintended pregnancies, they are much more likely to be able to provide materially for their children, decreasing the need for abortion. (See here for links: http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/abortion-right... )

Poor women have a higher rate of unintended pregnancies than affluent women. Between 1994 and 2001, the rate of unintended pregnancies increased 29% for women living below the poverty line, while it decreased 20% among women with incomes that were double the poverty line or higher. Poor women are four times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy and three times more likely to have an abortion than affluent women. Unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers over $11 billion per year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, while preventing these pregnancies would save the public an average of $5.6 billion per year. Guttmacher also says that because the vast majority of abortions result from unintended pregnancies, one of the best methods for reducing abortions and unintended pregnancies is better access to affordable contraceptives. They suggest that the current recession has made it more difficult for lower income women to obtain contraceptives, thus contributing to their growing rate of abortions.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-11 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Thank you, though would like direct links not to your blog where I then have to get links from
Fed Poverty level 2008 for 1 person $10,400, so twice is $20,800/yr.
http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/08poverty.shtml

This is due to a number of factors, including worse overall health and nutrition, which increase the chances of a medically necessary abortion, while poverty decreases access to perinatal care and contraceptives. Also, while affluent women have far fewer unintended pregnancies, they are much more likely to be able to provide materially for their children, decreasing the need for abortion.

Are you saying that women with less access to perinatal care have higher rates of abortion? I'd like to see a link to a source about that, NOT your blog. Thanks.

I agree that money is a cost to contraception and that economically women with higher income have more money.

However, it still comes down to is the reason is not up to you or I. It is between the woman and the provider.
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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-23-11 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. The decision is always up to the individual.
I am not making a decision for anyone, nor am I suggesting that anyone else make personal health decisions for individuals. Women should have increased access to affordable abortion and complete control over when and if to get one.

I am stating that as a society, it is imperative that we organize everyone who is not a boss to join together in the struggle for better living and working conditions and social and political empowerment for all. Not only does this improve health and educational outcomes, in general, but it will reduce the need for abortion, specifically. It certainly will not eliminate all the various reasons why women get abortions, nor should this option ever be eliminated, reduced, or controlled by anyone other than the individual seeking it.

I am also saying that poor women obtain less and/or inferior perinatal care and that poor women do have overall worse health. They have higher rates of stress, as measured by elevated levels of cortisol in the blood, as well as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and hypertension. Perinatal care is linked not only to a pregnant woman's overall health, but to the health of the fetus. Furthermore, there has been an increase in pregnancy related diabetes, which can lead to complications necessitating an abortion. I do not have a statistic I can direct you to directly linking perinatal care to abortion. However, you can check out the website for Unnatural Causes to see the data on wealth and health: http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/case_studies.php

I apologize for linking back to my blog. I was not trying to blog whore. Rather, because I had added so many links to the original piece, it seemed more efficient to redirect you there, where you could find all the links.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-23-11 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. thank you and I agree that economics and health care esp reproductive
I'll check out your blog more. We get people trying to stir up activity for their blog rather than passing on info or discussing. Thank you for clarifying your stance on legal abortion rights.

One of my first hosp nursing jobs we were warned during orientation that there was a union and they would ask us and pressure us to join and that we were in no way obligated to waste our money or time with them. We were told where they hung out so we'd be prepared. Nice of them to tell me. On break I went and joined. We do need to work together as individuals, as society, politically, etc. It will help us all.
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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-11 02:43 PM
Response to Original message
3. Economic Opportunity via Abortion or Lack of Children?
Many pro-choice advocates argue that abortion increases economic opportunities for women. Again, I am not arguing against abortion. It should continue to be legal, affordable and accessible for many reasons. However, this argument conflates a medical procedure with future wealth, when it is actually the absence of children and the numerous expenses associated with child rearing, not abortion itself that is the basis for this. If poor women are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy, then reducing poverty would not only improve womens economic welfare directly, but indirectly, too, by reducing the chances that they are forced to provide materially for a child before they are ready to do so. However, even this argument is not entirely consistent with the evidence. While delaying childbearing generally improves the economic welfare of affluent women, it lowers the economic welfare of lower income women. Several studies indicate that poor women who have children early, particularly as teens, thus being freed of child-raising duties by their late-20s to pursue employment opportunities, had higher incomes than their peers who had children in their 20s and 30s, and were less likely to be living in poverty (See Mike Males). This is not to say that teens should be encouraged to have children or denied access to abortion. Lower income teen mothers are still much less likely to become affluent adults than their affluent peers. But this tendency has far more to do with their lack of privileges growing up and as young adults, than it does with motherhood or lack of access to abortion. Lower income children continue to lack privileges such as health insurance, good nutrition, clean environments, enriching summer activities like camp, vacations and summer school, while as young adults they continue to lack privileges like inheritance, business connections, and the ability to afford college. (See here for links: http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/abortion-right... )
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-11 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Why do women, overall, earn less than men?
However, this argument conflates a medical procedure with future wealth, when it is actually the absence of children and the numerous expenses associated with child rearing, not abortion itself that is the basis for this.

Having and abortion=lack of child. Having the ability to have child if you want to or not to, is what having access to legal safe hygienic abortions is about. No conflation there but cause-effect.

reducing poverty would not only improve womens economic welfare directly, but indirectly, too
Yes, reducing poverty improve's economic welfare in many ways.

Here are the facts, starting with a question. Why do women earn less than men? Because they get pregnant and have children and this impacts their ability to work. They need to take time off of varying amounts for pregnancy (some work until the day they give birth, others need months off). They are called on to take time off to deal with sick or needing infants and children (yes, I am speaking broadly and yes some men do this also). Employers have been changing since I was young. Used to be they asked during job interview AND on applications what our plans were for "having a family". There is more equality these days but it still isn't even. Why?

While delaying childbearing generally improves the economic welfare of affluent women, it lowers the economic welfare of lower income women. Several studies indicate that poor women who have children early, particularly as teens, thus being freed of child-raising duties by their late-20s to pursue employment opportunities, had higher incomes than their peers who had children in their 20s and 30s, and were less likely to be living in poverty (See Mike Males).

Link to "Mike Males" please, I would like to see this info.
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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-23-11 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Abortion does not cause economic improvements directly
Abortion is about far more than having a child if you want to or not, though this is certainly at the core of it. In some cases, abortion is necessary to prevent the death of the mother.

The conflation is that abortion does not necessarily lead to improve economic welfare at all, and certainly doesn't do so directly. IF one has improved economic outcomes after an abortion, it is NOT because of the abortion, but b/c of the freedom from child rearing time and expenses. In other societies, the time and expenses of child rearing are shared by the extended family, tribe and/or taxpayers. In France, for example, women get two years leave from work, much of it paid, with government provided nurses and home assistance. In the U.S., most women do not even get a clean safe place to pump breast milk at work. Women professors and doctors are expected to put in 60-80 hour weeks, regardless of whether they have children. If their partners (if they even have partners) are also professionals, this means either parting out the job of raising their children to family members or nannies, or choosing to temporarily (or permanently) give up or delay their career choice. The problem is much worse, of course, for lower income women, who cannot afford nannies and expensive daycare and who may be forced to work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet.

It is not true that having a family must necessarily conflict with a career or income generation. There is no reason why "house" wives and hubbies should not be paid or why society should not support families generously, instead of the punitive system we currently have.

It is also only part of the picture that women's ability to get pregnant causes them to earn less than men. Sexism, in general, places this burden completely on women. It is not just individual sexism of men who refuse to help out at home, but structural or institution sexism that reward men who ignore parenting and punish women who do anything but. However, it is also the fault of the labor movement which has been sexist historically, as well, especially in its early days. The AFL, for example, refused to represent anyone but the most skilled and elite workers, abandoning women, immigrants, people of color and anyone who did "unskilled" or "semi-skilled" labor. The labor movement has done very little to ensure quality and affordable childcare for working parents, paid family leave or even equal pay for women. These are issues that require far more than lobbying and sign waving. These are issues that require militant and vigorous direct action and strikes.

The best Mike Males reference is his latest book, Teenage sex and Pregnancy (http://books.google.com/books/about/Teenage_sex_and_pre... ) which is a fascinating read that analyzes many of the myths and stereotypes about youth behavior and the general social assault on teen girls. It also has several tables worth of statistics on the relationship between social class and race and unplanned pregnancies and abortions. However, the reference in my article is http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-ma...
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-23-11 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. "freedom from child rearing time and expenses" because she got an abortion.
It is true that you don't make big bucks simply by having an abortion. But having an abortion then frees you from childrearing time and expenses. IF you had a job that you were unable to continue at the same level by having a child, getting an abortion would directly impact your financial welfare.

"It is not true that having a family must necessarily conflict with a career or income generation." True. But for so many of us, it does. In our society, it does. Accessible affordable daycare would be a great use of taxpayer monies. It would have to be psrt of social services so that those providing daycare get paid a living wage.

Thoughts on the LATimes Males article. Interesting article, but I have some problems with it.
Another reason to jettison the pejorative idea of "teenage pregnancy" is that that teen motherhood may be a viable strategy for poorer and minority groups in the U.S. and other countries to maximize the survival of their offspring. Because poorer groups tend to die younger, having babies early in life may ensure that grandparents and extended family members will be alive and healthy enough to help raise children.

Ridiculous for 2 reasons. This is like saying since infant mortality is so high in sub-saharan Africa, that women should have more babies. And because you have a higher likelihood to die younger, have babies younger? If you have a tendency to die younger, why would you expect to have grandparents who survived as they should have died young also?

Women who became mothers in their teens -- freed from child-raising duties by their late 20s and early 30s to pursue employment while poorer women who waited to become moms were still stuck at home watching their young children

This would hold true for all women. Have babies early, then enter the workforce without the need to take a break after a few yrs to do the baby/child thing.

The article goes on to state "Adolescent childbearers fare slightly better than later-childbearing counterparts in terms of their overall economic welfare." Like I said, having babies early means once you enter the workforce you don't take that -10 yr break to have babies and raise them to the age you can re-enter the workforce. Seems this would hold true for all economic levels.

Give women the ability to control when they have children, give them affordable high quality assistance to do so, and it all works much better.
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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-24-11 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. having babies to ensure survival
This is certainly a ridiculous argument to support and fight for. However, historically, and in poor countries, it is a strategy that is taken by many families, as the children help on the farms and bring in income. They provide childcare for siblings and help around the house. And they provide "insurance" for families, as poverty dramatically increases child mortality on the one hand, and elderly parents do not have any monetary insurance or social programs to support them in their old age.

On the other hand, like my arguments, this is a terrible strategy to fight for. Rather, ending poverty for everyone, creating safe, healthy and viable ways for everyone to survive and thrive makes much most sense socially and ethically.

The second argument actually does make sense for the poor more than the affluent because the affluent are much more likely to attend college. They are more likely to be expected to by family members, friends and themselves. They are much more likely to be able to afford college, have the academic skills and social connections to succeed in college. Affluent students have higher success rates when in school.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-24-11 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Which is preferable? Have 10 babies, 8 die, 2 survive. Have 2 babies who survive healthily.
That is what contraception can do to ensure help and insurance. Cutting aid to groups who provide accessible affordable contraception because the might discuss abortion is wrong and dooms many infants to early death.

Whether or not you have a college degree, whether or not you have a high paying job or not, if you work a while, then take a break of yrs for child bearing and rearing, when you return, IF you are able to return your salary drops or at least is not as high as if you'd not taken that break.

If you have child before entering work force, you start later but the wages, typically, and benefits, typically, rise. If you take a 10 yr break, you may be back at the beginning or at least get a drop in wages and benefits, typically. Current economy may give different mileage.

Economics AND reproductive control go hand in hand. I see it as interlinked, not necessarily 1 causes the other. It has been an interesting discussion, you've given me stuff to think about. Thank you.
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millych3 Donating Member (26 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 03:24 AM
Response to Original message
12. Whilst I totally support abortion rights
I guess the OP has a good point here.
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