No Uterus No Opinion? No Opinion No Obligation
Abortion, child custody, rape, pregnancy entrapment, and the income gap.
Texas just passed a fetal heartbeat law that bans abortion procedures after somewhere around six weeks. The Supreme Court didn’t actually rule on the law, they ruled on whether they should have to rule on the law before the lower courts rule on it. Them not taking the full case now scares the hell out of the pro-choice side and I can understand why. The abject, bald faced legal shenanigans pulled by Texas on this thing are so horrible they make me want to link Vox, and stand to set a bad precedent for future attempts to bypass judicial scrutiny, especially within the space of gun law where New York or California may try the same shenanigans with gun bans.
We’re skipping all of that to talk about the juicy stuff. Sense making the culture war around abortion has forever been impossibly difficult because pregnancy and babies are such tremendously important, tremendously personal things, the sexual revolution made them extremely complicated, and we still haven’t resolved what to do about that complication. Let’s jump right into the deep end with Rape Babies, swim through the whirlpool of societal obligations, and try to fix abortion law at the end.
Defining Rape Babies
Forcible rape is when one person consents to sex and the other doesn’t, the first one forcing the second one to have sex, either physically or with drugs. Modern “campus tribunal” scope creep has started to include things like “two beers” as non-consent, or “lack of verbal approval at every single step of the sexual encounter” as non-consent. There are many who would consider dishonest terms of agreement to be non-consent, the biggest of which is changing the terms of birth control before or during the act without letting the other know, often with the intent of creating an unwanted pregnancy. This is known as “pregnancy entrapment,” and is quite common. Men might do this by stealthily removing the condom. Women might do this by pretending to be on birth control when they’re not. Both might do it by getting their partner too drunk to realize what’s going on.
We might include some or all of these things under the umbrella of “rape,” and in so doing gather quite a few pregnancies into the overall category of a “rape baby.”
The CDC calls “men penetrating women without consent” rape, and calls “women forcing men to penetrate them” something other than rape, because almost every employee of the CDC is overtly politically biased. But when you break down the rates of those two behaviors, the rates are basically the same. A great statistical breakdown of that can be found here, along with some discussion of how and why the CDC chose their terms to make it seem like one is a problem when the other one isn’t. About 1.6% of women and 1.7% of men report having been raped by the opposite sex when you don’t play shell games with the definitions.
Pregnancy entrapment isn’t often considered “rape” in the legal sense but it’s certainly applicable to the abortion discussion. Almost all the study on this focuses on women being entrapped into pregnancy by men, but the few publications who look at rates indicate that these rates are also similar. 8.6% of women have had a man attempt it against them, while 10.4% of men have had a woman attempt it against them.
This yields an unusual conclusion. More rape babies are carried to term by women who raped men than are aborted by women raped by men. While abortion rights are one of the most important bulwarks against “rape babies,” and understandably so, our legal system treats half of these babies the opposite. Male victims of rape are not only not afforded the option to opt out of being a father, they’re forced to pay child support to their rapists “for the good of the baby.”
The justification for this is simple, and understandable. It’s not the child’s fault that the mother was a rapist, and the child still has rights and needs. We should not treat children of rapists differently than we treat children of non-rapists. But if we take that position, and apply it universally to abortion law, this means that there can never be an exemption for “rape and incest” in any law we cook up about abortion. It also means that babies with survivable birth defects of no fault of their own must be treated the same as other babies.
It also means that if women can opt out of parenthood unilaterally by getting an abortion without the father’s consent, then men must be able to opt out of paying child support if the woman has a baby the man doesn’t want.
Those two uncomfortable truths make this discussion far more complicated than the pundits on either side of it let on.
The Parent Trap
When my wife was first diagnosed with irrecoverable cancer I panicked about our family health coverage, because I run a one-man business and we were riding off her corporate Cigna plan. I called a meeting with some of the project managers of my best client, we had lunch, and I asked if they would like to hire me once I became a single parent. They responded with a resounding “yes.” I’m a respected expert in my engineering field, had worked in an office with them before, and they were elated with the idea of hiring me again.
We talked numbers. They gave me an idea of salary. I counteroffered a 40% lower salary, but a hard limit of thirty hours of work per week and only three days in the office, so I could be a mom to my kids after their real mom passed away. They said that was impossible. Nonstarter. The company would never buy it.
I asked them how many single moms worked for their company. They couldn’t think of any they were aware of, out of thousands of employees. I told them “Well now we know where the wage gap comes from.” My wife passed away in 2019 and I still work for myself. My kids are age seven and nine.
The highly touted “77 cents on the dollar” wage gap, which our culture has adopted as a universal truth, is multifaceted. The Obama Department of Labor produced the best multivariate analysis of the topic I’ve seen, which showed that even in 2009 the amount of wage gap that wasn’t explainable by “life choices” was down around 6%. Any differential due to sexism is hiding inside that 6%, as is any differential due to personality typing, cultural pressure, or similar. They controlled against professional and family choices, for which they had Census data. The choice to have children figured heavily here, as did the choice of career, but the choice to have children also spills into professional choice as well. I never could have even got started in engineering if I was a single parent early in my career.
Primary custody single mothers outweigh primary custody single fathers by a factor of seven to one, and each of those mothers is funneled into professional choices that the male divorcee doesn’t have to make. And I get it, and can see it, because I’m subject to the same professional stresses. I get a lot of compliments about being a great father, particularly from women, and I cringe every time I get one because I don’t have a boss forcing me to balance my job and my family like most single mothers do.
But that leads me to conclusions about the wage gap that aren’t popular. The single biggest way we could close the apparent “77 cent” gap is for the courts to give kids to the fathers as often as the mothers. And that connects to the abortion argument, where men are hedged out of the discussion of bearing the burdens of fatherhood at all for not having a uterus, and therefore an opinion.
Neoreactionaries, paleo conservatives, religious folk, and similar have a very simple solution to all this stuff. Rewind the clock to the 1950s. Even highly popular sex workers have a sense that this whole house of cards is only propped up by technology.
But going backwards simply doesn’t work. We’re too far gone down the new path to click the undo button. There’s no “save game” slot that could return us to 1950s culture, and even if there was, most people wouldn’t click the button. With abortion, the discussion needs to focus on reasonable windows instead of absolutism.
Unless you’re Ralph Northam, the idea of aborting a viable baby post delivery is anathema to our culture as a country. Which means viability, the test that Roe versus Wade established, must be the hard deck where rights are granted to the fetus, meaning doctors have two patients instead of one patient for which to care. That also means that if technology moves that goal post steadily earlier, then the law must move with the technology. Here’s your (current) graph on that.
In short, the back end of the window cannot extend past twenty weeks unless the fetus is medically nonviable, and as science advances, this window must move. The front end of the window, which is what the Texas law is pushing, runs into all the other problems mentioned above which not only impact women, but also impact men.
The woman must have time to realize she’s pregnant. She must have time to get a paternity test. She must have time to inform the father. She must have time to discuss what to do with the father. She must have time to schedule the procedure. She also must, if we’re going to talk about “rape babies” at all, give the father time to opt out, and the legal system must yield that option to the father.
This whole discussion is not about “abortion good” versus “abortion bad,” it’s about where to draw the line when a doctor has two patients instead of one. Six weeks is too early. Twenty-one weeks is too late. Pick a spot in the middle somewhere, quit arguing, and then get real about even application of rights to the three people involved.
And men and women, culturally, should choose to only make babies with people they deem to be good relationship partners and ultimately good parents. And culturally, we should do everything we can to indoctrinate good relationship behaviors and good parenting behaviors. That may mean going to church more, or finding another behavioral training alternative to church that still produces “good partner, good parent” results. It may mean revisions to our current religious culture as necessary. It certainly means going back and looking very closely at which traditional values are essential to avoid this mess, as the sexual revolution certainly seems to have thrown some babies, some women, and some men, out with the bathwater.