Monday, July 24, 2006

Feminists on C.R.A.C.K.

I eagerly await the day when N.O.W. protests the child tax credit. After all, those middle class women claiming it are just going to use the money to pay off the credit card bills they acquired through their compulsive shopping (which isn't their fault, of course, it's our consumerist society). And the birth of a new child is just another opportunity for families to sink further into debt: baby needs a new pair of shoes, and Payless takes Visa!

Seriously, left-wing feminists' opposition to Project Prevention, a program that pays drug addicts to get long-term birth control. is a bit disproportionate. None of them think it's a bad idea to have free or subsidized birth control (even sterilization) available to poor women. None of them think that family planning clinics that are conveniently located in poor minority neighborhoods are some evidence of a genocide scheme; in fact, one of the big causes of late is to prevent the shuttering of such clinics on the ground that it's burdensome for poor women to have to go out of their way to get BC. And while some opponents of Project Prevention probably think that paying people for participation in clinical trials, for plasma donation, or for egg donation are somehow coercive, I doubt that there's unanimity on that score.

So here we have a population that would, if you polled them, probably report that they'd like some form of long term birth control, but they're drug addicts and are thus incapable of getting their ducks in a row to find a clinic and to schedule and keep an appointment without some sort of incentive. Getting birth control is an inconvenience, and can be painful (here, a shot or an operation). Compensation for time and discomfort is not coercive.

It baffles me to see people who typically support reproductive choice agitating for the demise of a program that allows women to make an ex ante choice about future reproduction. Claiming that the money makes it coercive is absurd; by that rationale, all the subsidies that currently exist for parents "coerce" women into having children, the mortgage interest deduction "coerces" people into buying houses, and poor people are "coerced" into working at McDonald's. Isn't McDonald's just saying, "you'll have a place to sleep if you just spend your life emptying grease traps"? Oh, the humanity!

Our society respects the right of addicts to "choose" to have sex in a drug haze, get pregnant, and have babies that they won't or can't care for. At least some subsidies (although not enough, claim the left-wing feminists) financially support those choices. This just offers financial incentives for making the opposite choice.

UPDATE: The comments to the linked post reflect a serious misunderstanding about the fungibility of money. If a crack addict wants an abortion, the argument goes, we can give her a free one (thus permitting her to use the money she might have spent on an abortion on drugs), but we can't give her $300 and say, "here, go get an abortion."
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