On International Women’s Day, we’re bringing you some of the best pro-life feminist writing that we’ve been reading from around the web. Check out last year’s links roundup here.
Our friends over at Rehumanize International have a very interesting post from Stephanie Hauer about reducing maternal mortality rates:
Nearly 75% of all maternal deaths are a result of one of these causes: severe bleeding (especially after birth), infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, complications from delivery, and unsafe abortions. The remaining 25% are usually associated with infections such as malaria or chronic conditions like diabetes or cardiac diseases. Most of these complications are preventable or treatable. Many lives could be saved if offered the proper medical care.
It’s worth noting that Ireland pre-repeal had a comparatively good record on maternal mortality by international standards, with lower rates than the UK and France – even though there’s clearly a lot more that needs to be done. Check out Muireann’s post from a couple of weeks ago on the need to implement the National Maternity Strategy ASAP.
Writing in the New York Times, Leah Libresco Sargent uses a discussion of competing family-policy bills in the US to make the case that looking after children – and care work more broadly – is real and valuable work, whether or not it gets a market wage. Criticising attempts by some Republican Senators to tie child benefit payments to work requirements, she writes:
There is no intrinsic value to labor outside the home that raises it to a higher dignity than the work of parents or other caregivers within the home. If only wage work is seen as “real” work, then a father who stays home with his young children doesn’t count as providing for his family. To convert care into “real” work, he has to perform a sleight of hand. If the father swaps kids with a neighbor and each family pays the other to take care of its kids, then the same diaper changes, food preparation and reading of storybooks become official work.
Systematic devaluation of care work and other forms of interdependence is something that plays into how our society views abortion (as we discussed on an episode of our podcast), and it’s no accident that care work is usually female-coded and accordingly dismissed.
Libresco Sargent’s Other Feminisms substack is well worth a look, not least for having that wonder of the internet, An Actually Good Comments Section.
On a grimmer note, one of the major areas in which the pro-life movement and feminism need to co-operate is in combatting sex-selective abortion. We wrote about the UN’s incoherent approach to this very problem last year. Newsweek reports the findings of a 2019 study which estimates that about 23 million girls worldwide were aborted because of their sex since 1950. Other estimates, such as those of economist Amartya Sen, put the number over 100 million. (We haven’t checked out the methodology of the various studies: feel free to have a look at them yourselves).
The good news is that there’s some reason to think that sex ratios are beginning to level out in many of the countries in which sex-selective abortion is most prevalent.
In every nation except Vietnam, the team found that the skew in sex ratios is returning to normal. This seems to be true even in China, which the analysis says accounts for 51 per cent of the missing female births. In 2005, 118 boys were born in China for every 100 girls [natural ratios tend to be about 105 to 1], but by 2017 this had dropped to 114. “Whether the downward trend in China continues remains to be seen,” says Chao.
Ross Douthat’s New York Times column on this topic is now nearly a decade old but remains one of the best pieces of writing on this issue.
Finally, for a bit of pro-life feminism closer to home, we in Ireland could do a lot worse than implementing the National Maternity Strategy. If properly funded across the country the Strategy could have a literally lifesaving impact, helping to prevent tragic deaths like those of Tania McCabe and Savita Halappanavar. Much of the funding initially for the Strategy has been instead allocated to providing abortion services in Ireland. Check out our blog post on the topic: Implement the National Maternity Strategy Now.
Until next time.