If we cut Planned Parenthood the money saved could sustain the war for 3 hours 51 mins. $75 million for 800 clinics a year, or 4 hours of war. -Madeline McDonald Lane
How do you perceive the relationship between reproductive rights and labour?
What forms and particular points of divergence do global feminisms occupy in this moment both culturally and materially speaking?
Obviously, financial concerns don’t motivate the defunding of planned parenthood. As the comparison shows $76 million isn’t worth saving in context of the federal budget. The desire for completely privatized healthcare and the hatred of women motivates the cut. The time has not yet come to eliminate medicare so Planned Parenthood is a logical target.
As for almost 4 hours of war, I wonder how many hours of employment that adds up to when one calculates the labor time involved in manufacturing the commodities used in 3 hours 51 minutes of war. The national unemployment rate was 9% in January. What would it have been without the war? Women soldiers, the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, and the dream acts proposed citizenship for service scheme reduce all human life to potential military labor hours.
Perhaps it’s too easy for a man to write, but the pairing suggests that creating women who cannot be assimilated into a labor pool and whose reproductive freedom impairs social reproduction constitutes the most immediate challenge for feminism today.
I (joni) will just be the nutcase discussant and write about something I was thinking about when the Republicans were keeping Terry Schiavo on life-support because they were “pro-life”.
The average cost of keeping Schiavo on life-support was $2,000-3,000 per day. The machines ensured that her blood circulated and her lungs inflated and her waste products were filtered and that she was nourished.
This was fascinating to me – not only that it could cost so much to keep a human being alive, but also that people were willing to pay that money to keep someone alive in a persistent vegetative state. It struck me that maybe if these Republicans and others who are so very pro-life really wanted to stop women from having abortions, maybe they should offer pregnant women who were considering having abortions $2,000-$3,000 a day to provide similar “life support” to their fetuses.
The average pregnancy lasts 280 days, so that is approximately $560,000 – $840,000 per pregnancy. So if women’s lives were considered even as valuable as merely insentient life-support machinery and the occasional adjustments by persons trained to run / maintain the machinery (after all, a mother must eat right and exercise etc. to maintain her “machine” – so she technically fulfills both the functions of machine and hospital staff), they could stand to make half-a-million to 3/4 of a million dollars just for carrying the baby to term.
In the last year for which statistics are listed on the Wikipedia, 2005, the number of recorded abortions in the US was 820,151 – a 30 year low. So If all those women had carried those pregnancies to term (let’s be optimistic!) that would cost between $459,284,560,000. and $688,926,840,000.
Now, I am not an astronomer or a Koch brother so I have no idea what those numbers are! But apparently the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2001 is (when I looked at the cost of war website just now) $1,155,555,300,000. That is pretty much the averaged (high and low) cost ($1,148,211,400,000) of 2 years of paying women the wages we pay life-support machines based on 2005 figures. Based on 2005 figures, averaged, the cost of paying US women who had abortions the wages we pay life-support machines would have been $5,741,057,000,000 – $4,585,501,700,000 more than the two wars combined.
So maybe what women could do is side with the voices that say that the fetus is life – and then demand to be paid the amount per day charged for the machines that kept Terry Schiavo in a persistent vegetative state (out of respect for the sanctity of life) for serving the same mechanical purpose for their fetuses.
Clearly this is will require some belt-tightening because taxes will need to be raised 5 fold (don’t cite me, I scored in the 14% percentile in math on the GRE, mostly because of a panic attack though). This would also bankrupt medicare, the war machine, social security — pretty much everything.
But the outcome would be that many many poor women, who did not have the money to afford good doctors and family planning services at Planned Parenthood — and thus ended up pregnant — would end up at the top of the economic food chain. If they carried quintuplets they would be astonishingly wealthy! After a few years our entire hierarchical system would be ruled by women who by then would have all the money.
last year leading up to the march 4th protests in california, i planned to make a ‘pro-choice is still important’ button. although i cannot remember why now, i began to sense a tangible weakening of a woman’s right to choose. while this weakening has been a well planned assault occurring slowly for decades, last year, the issue took on a new sense of urgency. despite my almost year preoccupation with seriously revisiting the importance of publicizing pro-choice and reproductive rights, the actions taken up by the house of representatives last week snuck up on me. i was stunned on monday morning chatting with a friend over coffee as she read an email from planned parenthood, subject: ‘the worst attack — ever.’
thinking about reproductive rights and political agency, two thoughts have come to mind. first, how can women begin to maintain actual political power in light of an increasingly male dominated congress (despite the most female candidates running in the last election) and the recent supreme court decision to grant corporations the same rights as individuals for campaign contributions. the supreme court decision seems to increasingly alienate labor from political power. women as workers are already marginalized from labor rights, let alone equal representation within corporate power – we make less, hold fewer chairs on boards and fewer top corporate positions. if corporations through the supreme court decision will gain increased political voice, what can women do to gain an effective political voice? how do we counteract this?
second and i’m not sure how to think through this. but it is a question about the economics of reproductive choice. which to me, seem to becoming increasingly cost prohibitive. until this academic year, my insurance co-pay for birth control was $15 a month. drug store condoms are almost $1 each. without planned parenthood, who will have access to the means of effective reproductive planning?
My first response to the question hinges on thinking about domestic space. As a political project, as a space-making process let’s say, the domestic has something to do with the production of social distance, so that “work” and “home” can appear as spatially and temporally separate; so that production and reproduction, domestic work and market work, and so on can be understood as external to each other in space and time. This makes it difficult to understand the efforts, activities and toiling of reproduction as (unwaged) labor; it hides the extent to which the social reproduction of the middle class has depended on the unwaged labor of the “wife” and on the production of a global migrant underclass of indentured domestic workers. In other words, it hides the extent to which domestic relations (kinship, reproduction, care relations and so on) are actually market relations.
Some of this is becoming surprisingly explicit in the arguments around recent policy attacking reproductive rights. (although this is nothing to celebrate). I’ve been reading the increasingly dense list of “crazy” proposed bills – from Maryland to Georgia — that criminalize undomesticated women and reproduction. (women should be at home, not working, goes the official reasoning of Maryland lawmakers who decided to cut Head Start funding). They all seem crazy, but of course they are not. This is part of a strategy to generate mass amounts of bills that are not meant to pas legislative muster, but instead to give the political right increased odds at having the supreme court grant a writ of certiorari and thus review and (given the current makeup of the court) overturn at least some of the provisions of roe v wade. It is the same thing we r seeing in the strategy to redefine birthright citizenship by pushing the interpretation of “jurisdiction” to the supreme court, and thus attempting to overturn the current interpretation of the 14th amendment.
I am unsure what I can offer here except to say that collectivizing reproduction has been uneven as a political project. In the US, the feminist analysis of reproduction also has a tendency to mysteriously drop away from otherwise really important social movements (one quick example is the food sovereignty movement), perhaps due to the liberalization of feminism – which increased the visibility of middle class women’s demands, while concealing the all-out war on poor and migrant women. I am really inspired by recent attempts to think about how to build self-reproducing movements, the struggles of migrant women at the intersection of reproduction, labor and migration and the work of childcare coops.