The Dollars-and-Cents Of Abortion

     First, snippets from two excellent novels:

     “The women’s rights movement had three goals. First, it got women into the workplace where their labor could be taxed….So, with more women entering the workforce the supply of labor increases and wages are depressed….

     “Now couples need to have two careers to support a typical modern lifestyle. We can’t tax the labor in a home-cooked meal. We can tax the labor in takeout food, or the higher cost of a microwave dinner. The economic potential of both halves of the adult population now largely flows into the government where it can serve noble ends instead of petty private interests….

     “The second reason is to get children out of the potentially antisocial environment of the home and into educational settings where we can be sure they’ll get the right values and learn the right lessons to be happy and productive members of society. Working mothers need to send their children to daycare and after-school care where we can be sure they get exposed to the right lessons, or at least not to bad ideas….

     “They are going to assign homework to their students: enough homework to guarantee that even elementary school students are spending all their spare time doing homework. Their poor parents, eager to see that Junior stays up with the rest of the class, will be spending all their time helping their kids get incrementally more proficient on the tests we have designed. They’ll be too busy doing homework to pick up on any antisocial messages at home….

     “Children will be too busy to learn independence at home, too busy to do chores, to learn how to take care of themselves, to be responsible for their own cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Their parents will have to cater to their little darlings’ every need, and their little darlings will be utterly dependent on their parents. When the kids grow up, they will be used to having someone else take care of them. They will shift that spirit of dependence from their parents to their university professors, and ultimately to their government. The next generation will be psychologically prepared to accept a government that would be intrusive even by today’s relaxed standards – a government that will tell them exactly how to behave and what to think. Not a Big Brother government, but a Mommy-State….

     “Eventually, we may even outlaw homeschooling as antisocial, like our more progressive cousins in Germany already do. Everyone must know their place in society and work together for social good, not private profit….

     “The Earth can’t accommodate many more people at a reasonable standard of living. We’re running out of resources. We have to manage and control our population. That’s the real motive behind the women’s movement. Once a women’s studies program convinces a gal she’s a victim of patriarchal oppression, how likely is it she’s going to overcome her indoctrination to be able to bond long enough with a guy to have a big family? If she does get careless with a guy, she’ll probably just have an abortion….

     “All those Career-Oriented Gals are too busy seeking social approval and status at the office to be out starting families and raising kids. They’re encouraged to have fun, be free spirits., and experiment with any man who catches their fancy….And by the time all those COGs are in their thirties and ready to try to settle down and have kids, they’re past their prime. Their fertility peaks in their twenties. It’s all downhill from there….

     “In another generation, we’ll have implemented our own version of China’s One-Child-Per-Couple policy without the nasty forced abortions and other hard repressive policies which people hate. What’s more, there’ll be fewer couples because so many young people will just be hedonistically screwing each other instead of settling down and making families. Makes me wish I were young again, like you, to take full advantage of it. The net effect is we’ll enter the great contraction and begin shrinking our population to more controllable levels….

     “It’s profoundly ironic. A strong, independent woman is now one who meekly obeys the media’s and society’s clamor to be a career girl and sleep around with whatever stud catches her fancy or with other girls for that matter. A woman with the courage to defy that social pressure and devote herself from a young age to building a home and raising a family is an aberration, a weirdo, a traitor to her sex. There aren’t many women with the balls to stand up against that kind of social pressure. It’s not in their nature.”

     [Hans G. Schantz, The Hidden Truth ]

     They talked to a woman from New York City. While still young, she had thrown herself wholesale into the corporate world. “One moment I was just graduating from law school,” she said. “I looked down at my desk, blinked, looked up, and suddenly I was an old woman with nothing in the world but money and work.” She had had brothers who were dearer to her than life itself, but had lost contact with them after college and somehow never managed to reestablish it.

     [From The Sledgehammer Concerto ]

     If that hasn’t yet tired you out, read on. There are further connections ahead.


     On Wednesday evening’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, the eponymous host provided his viewers with a connection between corporate American personnel policy and the rise of abortion among American women these past five decades:

     Corporate America wants you childless and this is a big change. A 100 years ago, big companies built housing for the families of their employees and then schools and libraries to educate them. It was the humane thing to do, but it also seemed to make good business sense at the time. If you wanted workers you could count on, you had to take care of them and their offspring, but over time, that arrangement got expensive.

     Employees with families demanded higher wages to support their children, and in many cases, they formed unions to get those raises. So, labor costs soared. So corporate America, in response to this, developed a new model: hire single women. At many big companies, including in the traditionally male banking sector, young women now make up the majority of new employees and you can see why they do. They work hard, they’re reliable. They tend to be loyal to the companies they work for. The one downside to hiring young women is they can get pregnant.

     If you’re running the H.R. department at Citibank, that is the last thing you want. Children make your health care plan more expensive. Worse than that, they tend to compete with an employee’s attention. Responding to after work emails seems less pressing to most new moms than putting their own kids to bed.

     That’s a huge problem for big companies, so they have every incentive to prevent their workers from having children. You can’t say that out loud, of course. It would it be too obvious. Give us the best years of your life and in exchange we’ll pay you what’s effectively a subsistence wage in whatever overpriced urban hellscape we’re based in and then take from you the one thing that might give your existence meaning and joy in middle age, which is having children. That’s the deal we’re offering. That is the deal they’re offering, but they can’t say that. It would sound like what it is, which is exploitation, no better than what the cotton mills once did to 14-year-old girls.

     So, instead of saying that, which is the truth, corporate America uses the language of the social movement it created, feminism, to spin the entire arrangement as some sort of progressive liberation movement. “Fight the patriarchy. Have an abortion. It’s got nothing to do with lowering our labor costs, we promise.” But of course, it does have everything to do with lowering their labor costs. Across the country they are making that case: abortion as liberation. Many of the biggest American companies are now paying female employees to have abortions, to end their pregnancies.

     Compare Carlson’s insight with the fictional snippets and draw your own conclusions. Mine can wait a few minutes while you do so.


     It strikes me as unlikely that the corporate model Tucker Carlson delineates above was any part of the original driving force for Roe v. Wade. However, a combination of three factors:

  1. The destigmatization of premarital and extramarital sex;
  2. The massive inflation of the Seventies;
  3. The concomitant huge increases in taxation at all levels;

     …gave rise to a state of affairs in which a great many more women needed to work for wages than was previously the case, while they were simultaneously being encouraged to emulate irresponsible young men in their sexual behavior. (The “encouragements” included the removal of the disincentives to sex outside of marriage.) A new model for American womanhood emerged, in which young women were drawn by present-moment needs and satisfactions to put working for wages ahead of marriage and motherhood. This change in incentives and disincentives, combined with the percentage of women who gave inadequate thought to contraception, made a surge in “unwanted pregnancies” inevitable.

     Simultaneously, corporate America took notice of the greater focus on work and dedication to it exhibited by unmarried and childless workers. The nature of corporate existence plainly favors such workers over people with children, to say nothing of the ever-expanding legal mandates for maternity care and maternity leave. Human resources departments and corporate treasurers’ offices smiled upon this new approach to getting more out of the workforce for the same (or less) money.

     It doesn’t matter that Andrew Carnegie, George Pullman, and Thomas Watson Sr. would spin in their graves over this shift in corporate attitudes and policies. The bottom line is the only thing that counts in corporate reckoning. Responsibility to the shareholders and creditors demands it. And so a fourth force was added to the enumerated three. This one operates to keep young, sexually active women childless, if necessary through the mechanism of abortion.


     No one can reasonably be sure of the sequence of events and the changes in attitudes they evoked. What we can know with certainty is “how it all fits together.” At this time, there are powerful forces militating toward childlessness in America, and relatively weak ones – some might even be called vestigial – encouraging the bearing and rearing of children.

     As I’ve written here and elsewhere, it’s exceedingly difficult to persuade people to reproduce against the incentives and disincentives. The present-moment needs can seem overwhelming; the present-moment satisfactions from high incomes and footloose sex are undeniable. The joys of parenthood and family? Security in old age? The future of the human race? These seem rather insubstantial when there are bills to pay, an ever-rising tax burden, and one really needs a new car.

     Note that all the influences I enumerated that urge young Americans toward childlessness have accelerated and intensified these past three years. Note also that the principal driver has been insane if not utterly malicious federal policy. And ask yourself where American business will find its workers and purchasers for its products should current trends continue. It’s a question that seldom occurs to HR functionaries.