Generally speaking, Republicans and Democrats support or oppose things like abortion or government-funded childcare on philosophical and moral grounds, but the practical consequences of their inconsistent life ethic undercut their humanitarian goals.
We see this when conservative Republicans oppose abortion on moral grounds—and emphasize traditional families—yet resist solutions like President Biden’s American Rescue Plan because they oppose using government funds to support the women, children and families who may be in need of funds once the child is born. Despite Republicans’ emphasis on private charities, the costs that come with caring for children continue to be an issue.
Likewise, Democrats tend to hold to the philosophy that it’s “a woman’s right to choose,” and that the government should either bankroll abortions or support the child after birth if the mother chooses life. Interestingly, 53% of abortions—including from poor women—are paid for out-of-pocket rather than through the government, and the reason given for most abortions is that the mother doesn’t have the ability to afford the child long-term.
In an ideal world, of course, all children would be born to married parents who could readily afford having children, but we do not live in that world. Multiple studies show that even in countries outside the United States, the most frequently cited reasons for abortion are socioeconomic. So, we must contend with practical reality; and the reality is that both major political parties in the United States of America struggle to address the elephant in the room: child care costs.
“Democrats and Republicans struggle to address the practical and financial realities that come with raising a child, instead dogmatically supporting ideological principles such as ‘keep the government out of my pockets,’ or ‘it’s a woman’s right to choose.”
We must then ask ourselves: since so many women and families have trouble financially supporting children, what can we do?
A number of solutions have been bandied about in recent decades, many of them remarkably short-sighted and wildly impractical. Conservatives rightly emphasize “biblical sexual morality,” but nine out of ten adult Americans continue to have sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage, often producing unwanted children. Liberals alternatively emphasize “safer sex,” but that still often produces unwanted children, and although we have had the birth control pill since the 1960s, abortion remains a common procedure even in nations like the United States. At the far fringes, some extremists have pushed authoritarian solutions like limiting children to individuals who reach a certain income level, eugenics, theocratic regulation of sexuality, one-child policies, and forced sterilization, most of which few Americans support.
Rightly rejecting those authoritarian approaches leaves us with limited options. For those of us with a conservative bent, we must consider: are we so philosophically opposed to government intervention that we decline to support the flesh and blood women and families with children who have no other recourse? For those of us with a liberal bent, we must consider: are we so philosophically skewed toward the traumas of poverty that we are willing to end a baby’s life to save poor women from the financial burden of raising them?
Yes, poor people have children. Single women have children. Sadly, families are not always there to help pay the way, and private charity can only do so much. As a woman who has often worked with local and state governments in schools and houses that supported individuals with disabilities, I’ve seen firsthand that not everyone can lift themselves up by their bootstraps, so to speak. As a direct support professional, I’ve worked in homes of residents with individuals who cannot care for themselves due to various developmental, cognitive, and physical conditions. Whether due to their age, mental condition, or lack of family support, many are left unable to financially support themselves. Democrats and Republicans struggle to address the practical and financial realities that come with raising a child, instead dogmatically supporting ideological principles such as “keep the government out of my pockets,” or “it’s a woman’s right to choose because it’s often too costly for them to raise a child.” Hence, we need parties like the American Solidarity Party who stand firmly against abortion while pushing for the kind of social safety net necessary for many poor women, children and families.
Khendra Murdock is a direct support professional and volunteer tutor. She has worked in fields assisting adults and children with developmental disabilities for nearly a decade. She lives in Springfield, MO with her husband, and they are expecting a child early next year.