I’m rarely surprised by what I read in the newspaper. The blatant, inaccurate, one-sided propaganda faithfully reported by the media in countless articles about The Inalienable Right to Life Act (HB1) over the past few years have numbed my sense of outrage when the press not only gets its facts wrong, but then doesn’t seem to care when you let them in on reality. But I must admit that I did a double-take over a few sentences I read at the end of an article in Sunday’s Washington Post.
In the feature piece, “5 Myths about abortion,” author Rickie Solinger lists as the fifth “Myth” that “‘Choice’ guarantees woman [sic] the opportunity to decide whether to become a mother.” She goes on to explain that this is a myth because “[T]he Hyde Amendment – a rider attached to appropriations bills each year since 1976 – forbids the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, making the decision not to be a mother financially impossible for some women.”
First of all, let’s be clear: The Hyde Amendment contains exceptions, allowing federal Medicaid funds to be used for abortions where the mother’s life is endangered or where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. This is important to the analysis of Solinger’s claim because it means that she is saying that where the mother is pregnant as a result of consensual sex, a lack of federal funding for abortion “mak[es] the decision not to be a mother financially impossible for some women.”
Of course, saying “no” to sex doesn’t cost anything from a financial perspective. So I see only two possibilities in assessing this outlandish assertion. Either Solinger does not know the facts of life, or she believes that poor women are such slaves to their sexual impulses that they simply are not capable of exercising their “decision not to be a mother” through available means of personal responsibility: by choosing not to engage in sex in the first instance, or by using contraceptive methods that are available through Medicaid.
I believe the first possibility can be safely dismissed, based upon Solinger’s education credentials and life experience. That leaves us stuck with the more sinister, troubling, second conclusion, which should sound as a figurative call to arms to every thinking, breathing, caring woman who grasps the implications of it.
Solinger may call herself a feminist (I don’t know, in fact, whether she does so), but this line of thinking is the stuff of oppression. Women–even those below the poverty line–are not pathetic victims who must depend upon government tax policies and welfare programs to shape their most intimate life choices.
Barring the commission of an actual crime against our bodies by another person (which, again, is not a scenario encompassed by Solinger’s reasoning), we do choose to engage in the acts that lead to motherhood, and we can also choose not to engage in them, or to engage in them after taking precautions to prevent pregnancy. Solinger has not made any case for these alternatives’ being financially impossible, but rather has dismissed them as alternatives altogether. That is as insulting as it is dishonest.
The abortion activists in America may have already succeeded in redefining “choice” to mean the particular choice to end the life of another distinct human being. I hope that we, as America’s women, will refuse to allow Solinger and her ilk to convince us that the only way to “choose” not to become a mother is to choose abortion after having already become one.
Rita Dunaway, Virginia Christian Alliance Vice President for Public Policy, also writes on her blog Fundamental Things.