Reproductive Choice – Looming Battle on this Personal, Political and Business Issue

As we enter April with a battle looming in the U.S and increasingly in Europe over the most basic of human rights; reproductive rights for women.

The tenor of the U.S Republican nominations has brought an issue most felt we were long past; reproductive choice, back to the fore. The topic is so crucial to Female Breadwinners as economic security for women is built on their ability to plan family size – and therefore access education and remunerative work.

With U.S. Republican legislators and candidates vowing to restrict and even criminalise abortion and stop government funding for birth control, women everywhere should be very concerned. In Arizona, they proposed a new bill allowing employers to fire women using oral contraception – deemed ‘whore pills’ unless they can prove they don’t engage in casual sex! It is ridiculous that the same employers who quibble over maternity leave as a major deterrent to hiring women would now want the right to only employ women who use no contraception at all!

Forbes recently reported on Why you have the Pill to thank for 30% of your paycheck an article detailing the findings of economist Martha Bailey. She says “By cause or coincidence, the pill’s diffusion coincided with important changes in norms and ideas about women’s work and the end of the baby boom.” But it’s clear that as the Pill provided younger women with more control over childbearing, the number of women seeking higher education and traditionally male-dominated careers spiked.

As Amanda Marcotte of explained to Stylist magazine “Reproductive rights are critical to women’s economic empowerment, which is threatening to the right – but also threatening on an interpersonal level. Women’s independence means we can be pickier about marriage and motherhood. Men who feel entitled to marriages where women worship and obey them without expecting anything in return? They’re finding their prospects diminishing and they’re angry.”

Ironically these proposals come from the same politicians who wouldn’t question why vasectomies and even Viagra are widely covered by most U.S. insurers. It would set women, and the economy they support, back decades to have reproductive rights curtailed. Smaller families benefit women and their careers, but also the economic and educational prospects of the children these women choose to have and the men with which they partner.

While the developing world is waking up to the fact that reproductive choice is the best way to move nations out of poverty, American conservative politicians seem to be trying to set back the clock on women’s economic progress.

And why should these shifting winds in America be important to British women?  Because anti-choice stalwarts increasingly feel empowered to protest in the UK as well. Anti-choice groups like 40 Days for Life are protesting outside London clinics and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service says staff and clients face new waves of intimidation. Working women must not allow reproductive rights to be challenged. This is personal and political but also a business issue.

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