I’ve seen this screengrab making the rounds and it’s a perfect morality play about the way alternatives can address pregnancy decisions. Almost too perfect. I decided to dig a little deeper into the backstory about the Dutch organization mentioned in the piece just to see if the claims are true.
Do you know how hard it is to do a deep dive on a small Dutch non-profit when you don’t speak any Dutch?
Basically, what I found is that the organization exists and there are no English language analyses of it. I got cozy with Google translate and pasted in lots of text from their website so see what their deal really is. It turns out they do have some kind of sponsorship program to help people who decide to parent. They also have a whole page about reversing medication abortion. That’s more wishful thinking than medical science at this point so…yeah. They also use a lot of manipulative language about a pregnancy being a “whole life” that abortion destroys.
So, maybe give the story in the screengrab half credit. But as a fantasy scenario where unplanned pregnancy is met with a full array of viable choices it is really nice to think about, isn’t it? Like, what if an unexpected pregnancy didn’t present a binary choice of abortion or extreme hardship? What if pregnancy could just be a surprise that only disrupts life in the normal having-a-new-baby way, not the way that leads to extending the cycle of poverty for another generation?
There have been a lot of panicked news reports lately about declining birth rates and worries about what happens when a country’s birth rate falls below the replacement rate. America is getting close to that and no one seems to know what to do about it. Feminists read those hand-wringy pieces and start screaming into the void and the screams are the exact same ones we scream at people who claim they want to reduce abortion but only suggest banning medical procedures as a solution. People don’t get abortions because abortions exist; they get abortions because they need to not be pregnant. People don’t avoid having babies because babies suck; they do it because it isn’t feasible to parent
*. If you want people to want pregnancy, you need to look beyond the womb and into society at large.
Not being pregnant – either through not getting pregnant in the first place or terminating a pregnancy after it starts – are choices people make less because of pregnancy itself and more because of literally everything else in their lives. And in America, we have done a lot to fuck up the “everything else in their lives” portion of the equation.
We have stagnant wages, rising housing prices, student debt, consumer debt, and insecure access to healthcare. Raising a family usually demands two full-time incomes and then childcare can cost about a third of that money. Pensions have all but vanished so any saving people can do has to be for retirement or emergency first. And now we have tariffs jacking up the cost of consumer goods as well. So that’s awesome.
The fact that anyone at all decides they can afford a baby is remarkable.
If we had in America what that screengrab describes, the choice to start a family would be a lot easier. As it is, we don’t have that. We have morality police telling you all the ways the choices you’ve made are bad and you have the economic powers-that-be limiting your choices by keeping you on the edge of destitution while they get richer and richer. The environment in America suppresses demand for babies. It increases the demand for IUDs and abortions. The demand is driven not by the supply of abortion and birth control. It’s driven by the environment people live in.
If you want people to toss their birth control or welcome an unplanned pregnancy, you need to make it possible for them to parent and live at the same time. Until we do that, we are not a pro-family nation and anyone who says we are is a liar.
*There are also people who don’t want to be parents and there are people who are infertile. I see and acknowledge those people and their choices and circumstances are real and valid.