The Real War Against Women

This paper was originally delivered at the first Capitol Hill Symposium, sponsored by The Family in America, on December 7, 2012. Inthelastelectioncycle, we were treated to the spectacle of one political party accusing the other of waging a war against women. I agree that there is a war against women, but not the one we heard the politicians talking about. The war I am talking about has a very different solution than zero-priced contraceptives.I believe the real war is a war against women’s fertility. In this paper I will give evidence for my claim that some people, including many with political and social power, regard women’s fertility as a problem to be solved, and many public policies reflect their view. I will argue that women should not accept the ideological formulation that treats their bodies and their fertility as social problems; the goods that people claim to be serving by these policies can be achieved in other ways. Finally, I suggest a better way forward, more humane for women and children, as well as for men, and more sustainable for society as a whole. We should regard women’s fertility not as a problem to be solved, but rather a gift from God, to be cherished, protected and celebrated. Women’s Fertility is Considered a Problem Let us state at the outset that the default position in a free society ought to be that a couple’s fertility decisions should be none of anyone else’s business. After all, the vast majority of parents shoulder the vast majority of financial responsibilities for the vast majority of babies. If the parents believe the babies are worth the costs, neither the state nor society has any right to contradict them or to try to direct their choices one way or the other. This might seem like a straightforward, unexceptional claim. In spite of that seeming simplicity, however, there are two types of problems that controlling women’s fertility is supposed to solve. One we might call the public policy externali
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