Abortion Votes and Republicans on Parenting

When I opened Facebook this morning the first 10 items were all about the election results in Kansas (from news sources or friends citing them), in which an attempt to remove protections for abortion *failed* rather dramatically — by 60% over 37% or thereabouts. And here I just quoted this para from that Slate article about the New York Times, yesterday:

But most Americans—57 percent, according to Pew Research and 63 percent according to a more recent CNN poll—disapprove of the repeal of Roe. Treating the minority that embraces it with more curiosity and empathy than the majority who opposes it will lead it to skewed perceptions of the reality on the ground.

Thus, all today:

So what are the justifications of Republican politicians who keep passing or trying to pass restrictions on abortion, when the majority of residents in even a red state like Kansas oppose such restrictions? Who do these politicians think they’re representing? Well, they’re representing those who *elected* them of course. Which… suggests something is wonky with the election system. And it’s not some kind of fraud leading Democrats to win. It’s some kind of malfunction in the election system that is leading Republicans to be elected in disproportionate numbers. What that might be? Hmm, gerrymandering?


One more topic for today, which is sorta abortion-adjacent.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 2 Aug 2022: The GOP will never be the “Parents Party”: Republicans don’t think raising children is real work, subtitled, “Post-Roe, Republicans reveal their true belief: They don’t think rearing children is real work.”

There’s nothing Republicans love to do more than wax poetic about parenthood. Dip a toe into red state America and you’ll be bombarded with cloying bumper stickers and Facebook memes about how motherhood is the “toughest job in the world.” These sentiments aren’t sincere, however. They are mostly meant to reassure women who have been sidelined from paid employment that they don’t need that silly financial independence anyway. And in the last two years, things have grown worse as Republicans — in an attempt to justify book banning and “don’t say gay” laws — have tried to rebrand themselves as a “Parents Party” that supposedly stands up for exhausted folks just trying to care for families.

Caring for and educating kids is hard work. But this sentimental claptrap from Republicans has always been empty noise. Now that Republicans have achieved their goal of banning abortion and making motherhood mandatory, the mask is slipping away. They are now letting loose with their true belief: Child-rearing is dumb and easy, not even really work at all.

This is an extraordinary claim. Marcotte goes on.

Thirteen-year-olds aren’t allowed to vote, drive, drink, or, in most cases, even attend high school. Hell, Republicans don’t believe kids that young are mature enough even to receive sex education or told the truth about racism in American history. More importantly, outside of some odd jobs and very limited part-time employment, 13-year-olds aren’t allowed to work for pay. They aren’t allowed to live independently of adult supervision. Partially, this is because we’re trying to protect kids from having to grow up too fast. But it’s also because our society recognizes that kids this young don’t possess the intellectual or emotional maturity to handle adult responsibilities. We don’t want 13-year-olds driving cars not just for their own safety, but for everyone’s safety.

She goes on about Republican efforts to undermine public education. (See below!) And then concludes,

The Republican attitude towards child-rearing can be summed up as this: “If women do it, how hard can it be?”

In reality, of course, bringing up children is hard work. It can’t be done by one adult by herself, much less by those who are still children themselves. Every child needs a staggering amount of attention and care in order to grow into a functional adult. Little kids aren’t houseplants or even cats, who can be left alone for hours without supervision. It does, no matter how much Republicans may scoff, take a village to raise a child.

This calls to mind one of the basic, unquestioned policies of modern civilized life, across virtually all cultures: that young people are not fully adult until well-past the age when evolution gives them the potential to reproduce. Why would this be? Because humans have surpassed their evolutionary heritage and have become a functioning global society by setting aside evolutionary drives to reproduce as soon as possible. In the very primitive state, tens of thousands of years ago in Africa, when life expectancy was much shorter, it benefited the tribe to reproduce as early as possible, as often as possible, since life was short and dangerous and few lived as adults for more than a couple decades.

Humans have advanced in recent centuries or millennia, not so much through biological evolution (which operates very slowly, over millennia) as through cultural evolution. And doing that has required groups and societies to put off childbirth by young people, to put off a child’s role as an adult, until both parents and children were able to become enculturated, able to play roles in an adult society, rather than playing the merely animalistic role to reproduce.

Apparently Republicans, in their eagerness to prohibit abortion and welcome 13-year-old mothers, disagree. It’s all about propagating the species, in sheer numbers. Never mind nurturing adolescents to functional and productive adulthood. Keep them away from books, don’t teach them history, just have more kids. Theirs is an extremely primitive mindset.


And today, as if on cue, this story about Florida governor Ron DeSantis:

Gov. Ron DeSantis is vowing to “keep plowing forward” with plans to allow military veterans to teach in Florida classrooms, suggesting Wednesday that vets may be better suited to teaching than an education major.

“You give me somebody who has four years of experience as a Devil Dog over somebody who has four years of experience at Shoehorn U and I will take the Marine every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Brevard County.

(Florida Politics via Joe.My.God.)

Cue David Brin’s theme of the Republicans’ endless “war on the fact professions,” (in his book reviewed here. We don’t need no educated teachers! Just military folks!

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