The anti-abortion movement in this country is renowned for making insincere arguments for its point of view, ranging from the crocodile tears activists shed about rare late-term abortions, even as they try to outlaw IUDs, to the claims that regulations designed to shut down clinics are actually designed to protect women’s health. Let us hope this argument from the lead plaintiff in the effort to abolish federal constitutional abortion rights was formulated with her fingers crossed behind her back:
Ending most legalized abortions will “empower” more women to pursue careers while also raising children, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch told a Catholic television host late last week …
“Think about this: the lives that will be touched, the babies that will be saved, the mothers that will get the chance to really redirect their lives,” Fitch told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly host Catherine Hadro on Sept. 24 … “Fifty years ago, professional women, they really wanted you to make a choice. Now you don’t have to. Now you have the opportunity to be whatever you want to be.”
“You have the option in life to really achieve your dream and goals, and you can have those beautiful children as well.”
As the Mississippi Free Press noted in flagging this bizarre claim, Fitch didn’t just say this in a breezy interview with a fellow anti-abortion zealot. The “You can have it all!” celebration worked its way into Fitch’s brief to SCOTUS for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case involving Mississippi’s abortion ban, wherein the Court may well reverse Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the two big precedents protecting the right to obtain pre-viability abortions. But as National Review points out:
The march of progress has left Roe and Casey behind. Those cases maintained that an unwanted pregnancy could doom women to “a distressful life and future” … Factual developments undercut those assessments. Today, adoption is accessible, and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life.
The idea that it’s oppressive for women to be forced by the state to carry a pregnancy to term is obsolescent, Fitch claims to believe. It’s a new day in America:
So, goes the argument, since a woman doesn’t absolutely require an abortion to “achieve [her] dreams and goals,” it’s okay for Mississippi to deny her the right to have one. The premise is more than a little strange, particularly coming from someone representing arguably the most reactionary state in the Union. A counter brief to Fitch’s signed by 154 economists shows otherwise:
Although women experience unintended pregnancies and seek abortions at varying stages of life, one common thread is that many of these women already face difficult financial circumstances. Approximately 49% of women who seek abortions are poor, 75% are low income, 59% already have children, and 55% report a recent disruptive life event such as the death of a close friend or family member, job loss, the termination of a relationship with a partner, or overdue rent or mortgage obligations. As explained above, these women also overwhelmingly lack access to paid maternity leave or to affordable childcare.
As it happens, Mississippi is the only state that has no equal-pay law prohibiting gross discrimination against women — with or without children — in the workplace. It is probably the last place in America where it can be credibly argued that women have such an idyllic existence that there are no choices to be made and thus no need for a “right to choose.” It has the highest poverty rate, the highest infant-mortality rate, and the lowest per capita income of any state.
Fitch should stick to states’-rights claims or even religion-based arguments about when human life begins. The idea that women in her state couldn’t possibly need abortions won’t make it into the most radical decision reversing reproductive rights coming from the conservative Supreme Court majority, which seems headed that way.