The left has a thing for taking babies hostage. A perfect example of the “give us socialism or we’ll kill the kids” genre was recently published in The Guardian titled “The hardest decision of my life: to end a pregnancy because I had no paid leave.”
This sort of story is irresistible to left-wing Christians such as Elizabeth Bruenig of The New York Times, whose tweet about the article is now deleted. It allows them to declare that the real way to end abortion is to make abortion unnecessary, and the only way to do that is by establishing a generous cradle-to-grave welfare state.
This argument salves their consciences for their support of radically pro-abortion politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders. It is also an extension of the dishonest taunt that conservative Christians only care about babies before they’re born.
The Guardian article was designed to illustrate that argument, but on examination it demonstrates its failure. The author knew the child in her womb was a unique human life (“Looking at our wedding photos, I realized there were not just two lives present but three”), yet she chose an abortion anyway.
Her ostensible reason is that, having just begun her job, she was not yet eligible for its paid leave policy, although management might have made an exception if she had asked (she thought about asking, but didn’t). She would certainly have been able to use sick days, if she had them, or ask for an unpaid leave of absence. This means she aborted her child because she was at risk of losing a few weeks’ pay.
The author does not provide details, but it is revealing that she described her decision in terms of anxiety and planning preferences—“Was having the baby with extremely limited funds, in a small apartment, actually a romantic way to start a family?”—rather than directly stating that having the baby would be financially ruinous. She concludes her self-justification by declaring that “our situation did not embody the climate of confidence we agreed was necessary for us to be parents.”
This shift from paid leave to a general “climate of confidence” gives the game away. If this was just about a few weeks of pay, it raises the question of whether there was some way for the author to raise that money in lieu of having her child killed. Notably, she does not report asking anyone for help. Her initial framing forces her to put a dollar amount on the life of her child, and confronts whether she could have done anything to ransom her baby. In contrast, demanding a “climate of confidence” makes her subjective sense of things a justification for what she did, regardless of the actual details of her case.
This is not to say that her situation was not sympathetic. Having a baby is hard. Caring for a baby is hard. Going back to work after a few weeks, or even a few months, of leave is hard, made harder still if that leave has been at least partly unpaid. But a few weeks of salary is not worth killing your baby for.
I am open to arguments that the United States should have more substantial pro-natalist policies, and conservatives have been promoting and debating various proposals that would add to existing policies such as the child tax credit and, yes, paid family leave, which President Trump promoted in his latest State of the Union address. But the left wants more than generous family leave policies, and will still champion abortion even if it gets its entire wish list.
Looking around the world, there is never enough socialism for socialists to agree to abolish abortion. Looking around the United States, there is never enough welfare for the left to agree to end abortion—solidly Democratic states lead the nation in abortion rates. Even if the left gets everything else it wants, it will still insist on a right to kill developing humans in utero.
In contrast, I and many others would happily compromise to end the legal killing of developing human persons in utero. Tax us more, cut the military, regulate businesses more, and expand the welfare state—we could tolerate America becoming more like 1970s Scandinavia if it meant that the left would agree let the babies live. But the left won’t, and the Guardian article shows why.
Bearing and raising children requires sacrifices even in the most generous of welfare states. Rather than make those sacrifices, this mother sacrificed her child, and the left will defend her absolute right to do so even in their socialist utopia. Their vision of liberation from material necessity includes liberation not only from poverty, but also from the consequences of our sexual embodiment. Hence the unwavering socialist support for unrestricted legal abortion.
Of course, many people refuse to admit the monstrous reality of the abortion regime that they and their political leaders support. Hence the pretense that some invisible hand of socialist plenty will end abortion, and the efforts to deflect blame for our nation’s abortion culture onto those who are working to abolish it. But it is just not so.
It was not stingy family leave policies that had this baby killed, it was the child’s mother, encouraged and enabled by a culture and legal regime that regard babies as a capstone consumer commodity to be ordered up when convenient, and violently disposed of when inconvenient. She didn’t get an abortion because it was impossible for her to afford her baby; she got an abortion because she didn’t want her baby.