In an article for The Atlantic, Erika Bachiochi argues that connecting abortion rights to women’s autonomy and equality—in fact, virtually equating autonomy and equality—has allowed businesses to treat families as encumbrances. Instead of recognizing that men who have children also undertake a role of nurturing and caring for them, society has an ideal for women that guarantees them the right to behave like men, abandoning their role in nurturing and caring to further their careers. The result is an economic landscape that ignores families and their centrality to social stability and happiness.
Perhaps the strongest illustration of the brokenness of these ideas comes in the form of a counterfactual: Imagine a world without Roe and Casey, but with Ginsburg’s rightfully celebrated anti-discrimination successes in the 1970s. In this world, workplaces and other institutions better acknowledge encumbered women, duly encumbered men, and the child-rearing family’s demands generally. Rather than being “free to assume Roe’s concept of liberty in defining the capacity of women to act in society,” as the Casey plurality contemplated, employers are burdened instead by the reality—now too easily cast aside—that most working persons are, and wish to be, deeply encumbered by their obligations to their families and the important work they do in their homes. In such a world, authentically transformed by women’s legal, political, and social equality, today’s overburdened mothers and fathers just might receive the respect they deserve.The Troubling Ideals at the Heart of Abortion Rights by Erika Bachiochi