Spoiler Alert: Pro-life v. Pro-choice has never been about the sanctity of life (gasp!)

If we have learned anything over the past two years, it is that the ever-churning wheel of Capitalism is not built to recognize humanity. Infinite growth trumps sustaining life. Every. Single. Time. 

At the time I’m writing this, just shy of1 million people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. According to a report posted in The Lancet, 40% of the first 500,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were completely avoidable, but were lost due to the egregious erosion of public health infrastructure, the politicization of mask-wearing, and premature pushes for a “return to normalcy.”

These are things we already know. I digress. 

I’m not here to argue against the importance of a functioning economy. When the economy suffers, we all suffer–low-income BIPOC the most, as usual.A majority of surveyed Americans, from both sides of the political spectrum, consider strengthening the economy as a top policy priority in 2022 according toPew Research Center.The compounded effects of the COVID recession, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and hyper-inflation(7% year-over-year)will have lasting, damning effects on everyone. We are drowning. 

As a person who is graduating from university in less than 2 weeks, I can’t say I am incredibly excited for the world that is waiting for me on the other side of my warm, safe, academic bubble. That being said, over the past 4 years studying Global Health (and a 2-year attempt at a Neuroscience degree) (obligatory mention), I have learned a thing, or a hundred, about the impacts government policy, social philosophy, and identity politics have onreal human lives. (See: usually Not Good Things.)

That brings us to an issue that is the perfect storm of all three: women’s reproductive rights. A draft opinion leak published inPOLITICOindicates the Supreme Court is charging up to overturn the rulings of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in a month’s time. Such a decision ensures that a third of all people of childbearing age (12-51 yrs) in 24 states will lose access tosafeabortion care.

It’s no surprise more and more women (and people who are capable of giving birth) are deciding against having children. Fertility rates tend to decline in times of economic recession, political turmoil, and health crises. So, the past few years have been a real baby-making mood killer. 

For a while I was vehemently against the idea of having children of my own, the main reason being I wasn’t sure if it is ethical to bring life into the world on the eve of humanity’s demise. With no substantial policies in place to address inevitable climate disaster, a country war-torn by political polarization, and a social climate that leaves meexhaustedon a daily basis, how could I willfully condemn another person to sufferwithme? Since then, I’ve strayed from allowing doom and gloom to be the sole factor in my decision, but many people have not—and rightfully so. It seems foolish to expect women to want to take on the role of motherhood in a country withoutcomprehensive mental health careoruniversal paid parental leave,theworst maternal mortality rate of all advanced industrialized countries,and blatant overemphasis on patriarchal ideals thatimpact women’searning potential, health outcomes, and overall wellbeing.

We place an insurmountable burden on the shoulders of mothers as the liaisons between grief and the world. Women, in general, have long been forced harborers of the darkest parts of the collective, and the most violently punished for any failure to behave “appropriately.” We suffer silently with generations’ worth of sequestered rage in the name of performing ‘femininity.’ Meanwhile, white, cisgender, straight men have long been able to punch holes in the walls of democracy anytime things don’t go their way.

Monday’s Supreme Court draft leak demotes women from metaphorical dumping grounds for society’s grievances to actual, walking incubators whose sole purpose is to shut the fuck up and produce the country’s future working population. 

That’s what we’ve always been good for, isn’t it?

In December of 2021, Elon Musk (who recently made a $44 B purchase of popular social media platform Twitter) stated, “If people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble. Mark my words.” 

Such commentary from a widely known figure in pop culture, and, more insidiously, politically powerful tech billionaire (with a big, fat B), has sparked a new wave of panic amongst many and added fuel to the pro-life fire.

Admittedly, Elon’s not wrong here. Somewhat. 

Itistrue declining fertility both reduces economic output and increases economic strain via reliance on social support from the aging population. 

Simply, fewer births=less bodies to provide labor. Less labor=less money. Less money=uber-wealthy capitalists can’t stockpile unimaginable wealthpeople die.

The U.S. has a longstanding commitment to quick fixes rather than identifying and treating root causes. There is nothing more American (synonymous with Capitalist) than throwing a Band-aid on the problem to avoid lost profits and power, no matter the cost of life. 

Instead of listening to the hundreds of millions of people expressing concerns about climate disaster, labor exploitation, and a society that sits in direct tension with positive mental health outcomes—they choose to burn the witches instead. 

If women’s right to bodily autonomy threatens the reign of the U.S. as a global, economic superpower,to hell with it.Forcethem to become vessels for future laborers condemned to poverty to ensure the longevity of the working class. 

The truth is—I, as a college-educated person who comes from money, will never be forced to carry a child I do not choose to have. I will always have the ability to move state lines (or cross oceans) to maintain autonomy over my body. I have the resources, the money, the education, and the support. But they don’t care about people like me. It’s okay if I “kill” my babies, because social mobility trends predict my children likely wouldn’t benefit America’s dependence on maintaining a lower class, anyways. It is not thelivesof these hypothetical babies they care about, it is their (hopefully) able, exploitable bodies.

 The U.S.needspoor, uneducatedbodiesto bolster the industries that keep it afloat: healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and mass incarceration.

I could delve into every inch of this essay in more depth, but for the sake of concision, I’ll make my point. 

Basically, I am tired of being reduced to a body to play with, control, and (often)murder. This exhaustion has sent me into a loooooong-lasting nihilistic spiral in which I wake up every day to devastating news and askwhat is the point of trying anymore? I know many people feel the same.

I’m not shocked by this news—this train has been speeding towards us since 1973. But it is still uncomfortable to feel the hands of men I’ve never met fishing around in my guts right now. Knowing by the end of June they could be elbow deep in my reproductive system is nauseating. Even more sickening is knowing there are millions of people (who are of the minority opinion) cheering at the thought of my body being puppeted around in the name of “saving babies.” (Who are these babies, even? What if they’re born and they suck? I was also a baby once, just to remind everyone.)

I strayed away from party-affiliated blame games because, in my eyes, they play a very small role in this. Both parties are complicit. This decision will take place under a Democrat-led Congress and Presidency. Fights against abortion have never, truly, been about the fetus or the person growing it. They have always been about the government toeing the line between humanity and commodity. In that argument, there are no sides amongst us common folk (as defined as anyone with less than millions in the bank). I, we, have never been considered fully human in the eyes of the those in power, and this draft leak predicts they will sign our designation as inanimate labor-things into law very soon. 

As a queer woman, my spidey senses tell me that my right to marry who I wish is on the chopping block next. (See:Obergefell v. Hodges)

Regardless of political affiliation, gender identity, race, class, or sexual orientation—we should all be terrified at a government touting a return to “the Nation’s history and traditions” as justification for stripping millions of their basic rights. What a scary little place this country was back then. I’m not particularly stoked for round two.