Monday, February 26, 2007

What are the Politics of Childfreedom?

digg story Update: Blasphematrix posted a response to the previous post.
Childfree News calls Ann an “unusual ally in the party of Family Values.” But I don’t think this is so unusual at all. The conservatives are generally anti-welfare and although they are anti-choice once the egg has a sperm wriggling through it, I’ve yet to hear any of them complain about sterilization, in fact, the opposite, I’ve heard sterilization for these lame-brained breeders who keep having baby after baby after baby that they do not have the means to support advocated on even Dr. Laura’s radio show. The only people who bitch about sterilization are the liberals.
I'll continue the dialogue. While there is, of course, no single ideology that is aligned with childfreedom generally (and as my readers know, I feel both major parties regularly disenfranchise us) I still notice a strong skew to the left among my childfree friends. On the most basic level, I attribute this to the fact that religiosity leads to both conservatism and parenting, the fact that free-thinking that leads one away from traditionally assumed values is necessary to decide not to parent.

But most centrally, the modern right aligns itself with family values in a way that is more antipathetic to childfreedom. While liberals would drain of us of our cash to support the wee ones, it is the right who are saying marriage must be defended as a procreative model It is conservatives that would deny us the very means to avoid having them, such as birth control and sex education.

Breaking it down even further; values are often divided into the economic and the social. Those who are to the left on both are liberal, to the right on both are conservative. Those who believe in liberal social policies and conservative economic policies are generally libertarian. I believe that conservative economic policies favor the childfree, by steering away from child tax credits and other redistributions toward parents. Liberal social policies favor the childfree, by increasing our ability to avoid pregnancy, and by steering from the notion that it is somehow an obligation or duty.

Of all the permutaitons possible, the harms visiting upon us by conservative social policies have the most direct effect, and strike closer to our interests.

But of course, this is a debatable point, and it is only one aspect of the political breakdown... which is why you get such a range of views in our community. Indeed I would theorize that the childfree have a high rate of independent views - positions that do not correlate well with one standard ideology. I see a study. You there, Vinny C?


Unknown said...

Politically, the childfree are pretty much all across the board, but in general, they seem to skew towards lessening tax breaks for children, and more towards increasing availability of contraception and positive towards abortion rights and the right to get sterilized.

Obviously, the "left" and the "right" are generalizations, and each side encompasses different opinions. The left seems to hit more towards "rights," as in "you have the right to have as many or as few kids as you want, and an individual's desire to have kids should be irrespective of their financial state." The right seems to hit more towards "responsibilities," as in "You can't afford kids, don't have them. You can't afford birth control, don't have sex."

In some ways, it's lose-lose for both sides. The right will espouse an anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-environmental political stance (which leads to a public environmental problem, and lots of reproduction), while the left gives lip service to the environment while being hypocritical about population measures by having a bunch of kids themselves and fighting against attempts to supply significant birth control to communities that need it because it's "elitist" or "classist" or neo-"eugenics".

Honestly, it's reasons like this I'm glad to have a left leg and a right leg. One each to deliver a nonpartisan kick in the crotch to both sides.

L.T. said...

I'm commenting on my own post as the blogging version of a footnote - something worth mentioning, but which would interrupt the flow of the original post. The sterilization point is apt, although I would like to see a hell of a lot more evidence to conclude that the conservatives are on our side.

I would wholeheartedly agree that liberals have made strident efforts against our interests on this matter. Liberals are the ones so knee-jerk at any sign of euthanasia that they would restrict certain aspects of tubals ans vasectomies. The notion that paying crack addicts for birth control is offensive to them for it immediately reeks of racism. That, however, is more than just a whole new post, it is a potential book.

Liberals are also the ones who tend to support more sweeping tort laws which may indeed allow malpractice suits, which in turn put docs in fear of putting childfree women under the knife. However, the causal relationship between the two is currently just theoretical.

But I would also contend that the ICCPR is the very essence of liberalism, and that the recently adopted interpretation of a human right to voluntary sterilization is not borne of conservative values. This leads me to the conclusion that it is American liberalism which is holding us back, while a global concept is moving in favor of such rights.

Anonymous said...

LG - Okay, you have an amazing mind and I really enjoyed the way you spelled out our lack of political cohesion. And, OMG, I think I am really a Libertarian!

Vinny - Oh, please...another study! I really wish we were more together politically. I think childfree adults need to come together where they can. I see access to contraception, and control over our bodies as key issues. I think the dialogue over the economic issues is equally important, but we first need to pick a "no brainer" to rally around. If we get the dialogue started, good things could flow from that.

LG - As a lay person, I really didn't understand your reference to tort law, however, I feel strongly that doctor's fear of a law suit, worded carefully as "regret rates" and backed up with statistics, is why they continue to refuse voluntary sterilizations.

RE: sterilization for "people who shouldn't breed", whether it be women prison inmates (I read in a very liberal publication for the Black community that there is a new proposed leglislation on the table to make it easy for women inmates to get them), and drug addicts and welfare are right. This is more than a blog post. The book I read which covered this, quite the eye-opener is called: Barren in the Promised Land by Elaine T. May (1997). That is where I first learned the term eugenics. Very embarrassing that my liberal home state of California experimented with forced sterilizations in the 30s and inspired the Natzi controlled breeding program.

I really enjoyed reading this post, but I was frustrated with some of the legal terms and acronyms. What is ICCPR? Don't forget your general reader!

Anonymous said...

"The left seems to hit more towards "rights," as in "you have the right to have as many or as few kids as you want, and an individual's desire to have kids should be irrespective of their financial state."

Yes, and to support those "rights" let's tax everyone to the hilt so that we can have ever more family friendly work policies, that end up disadvantageous to those who choose not to procreate. No responsibility needed.

"The right seems to hit more towards "responsibilities," as in "You can't afford kids, don't have them. You can't afford birth control, don't have sex."

Yes, and remember it's abstinence. Not contraception because you won't be able to afford it - unless you're rich. And should you end up pregnant, we're working on reversing/removing your right to choose whether have it or not, so don't bother trying to get an abortion, because we will make it as hard for you as we can. So if you can't afford them, don't have them.

Right or left...left or right rather than relying on the essentially pro-natal parties to align with them, childfree people should probably start demanding that they start representing their needs a little better. I don't think we need to be militant, but maybe if enough people write to their political rep, it might make them start to take notice. If they want our votes that is.

L.T. said...

Sorry, it was written in haste. The ICCPR is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As discussed in this previous post, the ICCPR "Treaty Body" - the group that interprets and hears cases under the treaty - stated that one of the provisions in the treaty means that sterilization is a human right. It stated that requiring a husband's permission, that a woman be a certain age or have a certain number of children already is a violation of our rights.

Although the US is a signatory, these rights are not enforceable in US courts yet. And also though the WCA has folded, this still is an unprecedented opportunity to guarantee some very progressing freedoms in this arena.

American conservatives are more stringently opposed to the UN, to enforceable treaty rights, to allowing foreign and international law to have effect or even influence here. Therefore, the most progressive move in history on our rights to be sterilized can most properly be attributed to liberalism.

L.T. said...

Yet another caveat -

I stated that conservative economic policies are most childfree-friendly. However I am compelled to add that this does not translate to current politics. Let me break it down once again. There is a difference between politcs - which embraces the current adgenda of a political party - and ideology - which encompasses basic philosophies about which policies work best. My post was mostly about ideology - so-called "true" conservatives who may very well oppose current political policies of the right.

The Republican party in the US has developed a well-deserved reputation for embracing fundamentalist Christian ideals to the abandonment of some of the basic tenets of conservative ideology. This is probably a temporary blip, and does not negate the statement that the friendliness some true conservatives have shown to childfree interests is indeed consistent.

However, especially in light of the fact that the current administration increased the birth-bribe... erm, I mean child tax credit, this does mean that politically, the Republican Party has placed the highest barriers to our freedoms without passing favorable economic laws to mitigate them. In light of the current administration, party leadership, and statutory regime, the lessen of two evils is indeed apparent.