Poverty Is What Enslaves Us–And Causes Abortion

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The real problem in this country is poverty. By poverty I don’t just mean living below the poverty line. I mean not having enough money to function adequately. You could be middle class and living in what feels like poverty if you have no assets (no house, no car, no education), nothing to fall back on (no savings, no health insurance, no federal aid of any kind) and you’re barely making–or not always making–your monthly bills. You never buy new clothes, unless it’s at a thrift shop, you can’t afford new glasses or to go to the dentist. You certainly never go on vacation. And you eat the cheapest food possible.

You may decide that you can’t afford a child. But imagine living on less than $14,000 a year (for a family of two). How are you even existing? And then imagine that you get pregnant. How can you possibly support another person? Your income doesn’t automatically go up just because your family grows. Certainly you’d be getting some kind of federal aid, like food stamps, but even welfare barely supports one person, let alone a family, and besides, that’s only for a limited amount of time.

Most states’ welfare programs make you go to work after five years of receiving public assistance. (Source here.) That may seem adequate, but the problem is with the quality of jobs the recipients are able to get after going off welfare. A minimum wage ($6.55/hr.) job grosses less than $13,000 a year. If you’re supporting a family of two, you’re still at the poverty level. And let’s face it, in this economic climate, you’re lucky to get any job, let alone one paying more than the minimum wage.

Women are particularly vulnerable in this climate because of the fact that most jobs for women are lower-paying jobs and because they’re the ones who bear children. If a woman decides that she can’t afford another child, but accidentally becomes pregnant, what are her options? If the anti-abortionists had their way, she would be forced to have the child anyway, even if it means that she will go beneath the poverty level.

There is even a movement out there to make most forms of birth control illegal because they believe that they cause abortions. (See here.) So a woman is damned if she doesn’t use effective birth control (she has an unwanted pregnancy) and damned if she does (she causes abortions anyway.) What is a woman to do?

This open letter to anti-abortionists from The Feminine eZine, makes the case that it is poverty that causes most abortions. If women could afford their children, they wouldn’t choose to abort them. Therefore, if anti-abortionists want to cut down the number of abortions, they need to address the causes of poverty. That’s food for thought.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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