After Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, a Texas woman sought advice from Liza Featherstone’s column in The Nation, Asking for a Friend, writing, “Faced with increased career opportunities but a lack of support systems, women are postponing or refusing motherhood. I think that an awareness of the falling birthrate will soon reach the people in power. To me, this all seems like a perfect storm. Should we expect an even more brutal backlash against reproductive rights?” Liza asked me to comment, and I noted that people in power are already well aware of the plunging birth rate. That’s why we’re seeing increased attacks on birth control and abortion. The whole column is here. As usual, Liza’s advice is good!
When House Speaker Paul Ryan urged U.S. women to have more children, and Ross Douthat requested “More babies, please,” in a New York Times column, they openly expressed what U.S. policymakers have been discussing for decades with greater discretion. Using technical language like “age structure,” “dependency ratio,” and “entitlement crisis,” establishment think tanks are raising the alarm: if U.S. women don’t get busy having more children, we’ll face an aging workforce, slack consumer demand, and a stagnant economy.
Feminists generally believe that a prudish religious bloc is responsible for the protracted fight over reproductive freedom in the U.S., and that politicians only attack abortion and birth control to appeal to those “values voters.” But hidden behind this conventional explanation is a dramatic fight over women’s reproductive labor. Continue reading “Welcome to the Baby Bust”