Thursday, March 23, 2017

How The Conservatives View Childbirth And Its Costs: Lessons from the Trump Care Debacle

The approach conservatives of all stripes take when it comes to having children is extremely weird, and I do mean extremely.  They interpret childbirth from three utterly and completely different angles:

1.  The race and religious wars angle, which demands that white and/or Christian women maximize the number of children they can possibly have.  The Quiverfull movement is an example of that line of thinking in the religious context:  Children are arrows in the man's quiver, of course prepared by their women.  Women are part of the war artillery and must keep shooting out babies. 

2.  The forced-birth angle, which values the lives of people extremely highly before they are born but pretty much not at all after they are born.  Because of the immense value of fetuses, women, in general, have the value of containers for the fetuses.  Decisions about children, before birth, are socialized.  Decisions about children, after birth, are privatized, and even that is viewed narrowly as the obligation of only their mothers.

3.  The children as ice-cream cones angle.  This is the one which comes up whenever people debate whether firms should provide maternity leave for childbirth or paid parental leave.  It also crops up whenever there's discussion about how the reason why women earn less, on average, is related to their childbirth and child-rearing duties.

In those situations you will hear conservatives pipe up about "choice."  If women "choose" to have children, well, they must expect to bear the costs of that choice all alone, just as others are not expected to pay for their BMWs.  From this angle childbirth is something private,  like buying a new pair of shoes, something which has nothing to do with the reproduction of the next generation.  There's certainly no need for the employers to coddle women by providing them with maternity benefits!  What are they going to demand next?  BMW vacations?

From that third angle, children are conceived through parthenogenesis and all costs and burdens of childbearing should fall on only their mothers.

I may have exaggerated a little here, but not a lot.  The basic rule in all of them is an attempt to socialize the benefits of children (as the conservatives view them) but to privatize all costs of children.  The women giving birth are regarded as the only people truly responsible for the costs of children.

The most recent example of 3.  can be found in what White House secretary, Sean Spacer, said:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday defended a newly promised provision in the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare by saying that older men "can generally say" they will not need coverage for maternity care.
Republican leaders on Thursday signaled to hardline conservatives that the Senate may add a provision to the bill gutting Obamacare's Essential Health Benefits (EHB) rule, which mandates that insurance plans cover a basic minimum of health care services, including maternity care.
"A lot of people buy insurance not knowing what they're going to need," RealClearPolitics reporter Alexis Simendinger noted to Spicer during his daily briefing.
"Well, I think if you're an older man you can generally say you're not going to need maternity care," Spicer replied.
Such fun.  Unless that older man in the example is one of us divines, he was once born and needed obstetric care.

P.S.  If you are interested in knowing the parts of health insurance that I am never going to use, check out my two earlier posts on this topic.