Access to Abortion Creates Stable Two-Parent Families
by Dan Savage
on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 7:58 AM
And access to right-wing, sex-phobic, anti-abortion rhetoric creates Bristol Palins. Naomi Cahn and June Carbone writing at Slate:
Researchers have considered many reasons for the rise in the nonmarital birthrate—the welfare state, the decline of morals, the increasing independence of women, even gay marriage. But one that people on neither the left nor the right talk about much is how it’s connected to abortion. The working class had long dealt with the inconvenient fact of an accidental pregnancy through the shotgun marriage. As blue-collar jobs paying a family wage have disappeared, however, so has early marriage. Women are then left with two choices: They can delay childbearing (which might entail getting an abortion at some point) until the right man comes along or get more comfortable with the idea of becoming single mothers. College-educated elites have endorsed the first option, but everyone else is drifting toward the second. In geographical regions and social classes where the stigma for having an abortion is high, the nonmarital birthrate is also high. Without really thinking about it or setting up any structures to support it, women in more conservative communities are raising children alone. This is a legacy the pro-life movement has not really grappled with.
In Red Families v. Blue Families, we pointed out the irony that blue states, despite their relatively progressive politics, have lower divorce and teen birthrates than red states. In fact the college-educated middle class, partly by postponing having children, had managed to better embody the traditional ideal: that is, a greater percentage of children being raised in two-parent families. In response, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat admitted that “it isn’t just contraception that delays childbearing in liberal states, it’s also a matter of how plausible an option abortion seems, both morally and practically, depending on who and where you are.” Although he conceded that “the ‘red family’ model can look dysfunctional—an uneasy mix of rigor and permissiveness, whose ideals don’t always match up with the facts of contemporary life,” he argued that “it reflects something else as well: an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.”
Ross and other social conservatives should be asked to choose between condemning—and stigmatizing—abortion or condemning out-of-wedlock births and single motherhood. Continuing to condemn both is intellectually dishonest and disastrous for the kids of single moms living in parts of the country without "any structures [in place] to support" their families. And this fucking nonsense has to stop:
In 2009, Maggie Gallagher observed in the National Review that in the preceding five years, the increase in nonmarital births “had resumed its inexorable rise.” She then speculated, “Is it mere coincidence that this resurgence in illegitimacy happened during the five years in which gay marriage has become (not thanks to me or my choice) the most prominent marriage issue in America—and the one marriage idea endorsed by the tastemakers to the young in particular?” Again, there is no evidence whatsoever that single-parent families have anything to do with same-sex marriage.
It is time to consider another possibility. If abortion is not an option, then more single-parent births are pretty inevitable. Think of it as the Bristol Palin effect...
Preventing same-sex couples from marrying—including the nearly one quarter of same-sex couples out there who are raising children (a percentage that is sure to rise)—leads to more "non-marital births," Maggie, not fewer. If you want to create a social norm that says "People with children should be married," then you should be encouraging gay people with children to marry, Maggie, not the exact opposite.