Tens of millions of young Americans who struggle financially and see little hope for the future.
By Chris Hedges
On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion lawin the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory.
The ruling elites are acutely aware that the steadily declining American birthrate is the result of a de facto “birth strike” by women who, unable to afford adequate health insurance and exorbitant medical bills and denied access to paid parental leave, child care and job protection, find it financially punitive to have children. Not since 1971 have births in the United States been at replacement levels, considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, a ratio needed for a generation to replace itself. Current births number 1,728 per 1,000 women, a decline of 2% from 2017. Without a steady infusion of immigrants, the U.S. population would be plummeting.
Ignore the religious rhetoric and moral posturing about abortion. This debate is not about the sanctity of life. It is about corporate capitalists who desperately need more bodies and intend to coerce women to produce them.
“The effort to block birth control and abortion is not about religion nor about politicians pandering to a right-wing base, nor is it a result of prudery, nor is it to punish women for having sex,” Jenny Brown writes in her book “Birth Strike: Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work.” “It is about the labor of bearing and rearing children: who will do it and who will pay for it.”
Raising children is not a lifestyle choice. It is labor-intensive work that demands of parents, and especially women, huge physical, emotional, financial and time commitments. The wider society reaps the benefits of this work. It has a social and moral responsibility to compensate and assist those who raise children.
The birthrate decline is an indicator of the despair and hopelessness that define the lives of tens of millions of young Americans who struggle financially and see little hope for the future. Only by addressing this financial insecurity and desperation, by integrating back into society those who have been pushed aside, can the nation’s death spiral be reversed. …
‘On Contact’ With Chris Hedges: ‘Birth Strike’ & The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work
On Contact (4/6/19
The fertility rate in the United States has fallen for the seventh straight year, so much so that without immigration our population would be declining. Policymakers are acutely aware of the birth rate decline, using coded words such as “age structure,” “dependency ratio,” and “entitlement crisis” to express their concern with an aging population, the inevitable weakening of consumer demand and a stagnant economy. Yet they refuse to acknowledge the reality of women’s reproductive labor by providing adequate child care, family leave, health care, sufficient male support, and remuneration for child rearing. US women, in response, have gone on a “birth strike.” Joining Chris Hedges to discuss this issue is Jenny Brown, author of Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work and organizer with National Women’s Liberation.
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