Americans just got a window into why the left holds the “right” to an abortion to be so sacrosanct. During an exchange between Senator Tim Scott and Treasury secretary Janet Yellen, Yellen told Scott, “What we are talking about is whether or not women will have the ability to regulate their reproductive situation in ways that will enable them to plan lives that are fulfilling and satisfying for them. One aspect of a satisfying life is being able to feel you have the financial resources to raise a child.”
What message does that send to young women? That money, not starting a family, is how one lives a life that is fulfilling and satisfying. That one cannot lead a life that is meaningful with a burden, er, baby.
Last week, half a dozen “Handmaids” showed up at the home of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to protest her presumed vote to strike down Roe v. Wade, which could come at any time. No doubt they agree with Yellen’s assessment of how catastrophic an unintended pregnancy can be in the lives of women. And not just an unintended pregnancy, but motherhood in general.
Of all the places for a bunch of Handmaids to show up, the Barrett household, home to five biological children and two adoptive children, is an ironic choice. The entire message of the pro-choice movement is that success and fulfillment are incompatible with motherhood. That’s news to a Supreme Court justice who took the bench while still mothering young kids.
During the exchange, Yellen explained the necessity for abortion for those who are poor. “It means the child will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves,” she said. Scott then unforgettably replied, “As a guy raised by a black woman in abject poverty, I’m thankful to be here as a United States senator.”
As the adoptive mother of two beloved black children, you might imagine how Justice Barrett feels about Yellen’s argument.
Yet it is the progressive left’s vision of Roe, not our yearning for a post-Roe America, that is truly the Handmaid’s tale. In the progressive imagination, women like Justice Barrett do not and cannot exist. In their imagination, women are incapable of doing it all, delighting in motherhood (especially of a large number of children as Justice Barrett does), and working in a demanding career.
During her conversation with Scott, Yellen made the argument for abortion in candid and craven economic terms. She explained, “Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, helped lead to increased labor force participation. It enabled many women to finish school. That increased their earning potential. It allowed women to plan and balance their families and careers.”
This is a truly dystopian argument, rivaling that of Gilead, the land in which Margaret Atwood’s famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is set. Women have to abort their children because they will be more able to participate in the economy if unencumbered by childcare responsibilities.
Harvard recently released findings of an almost eighty-year study on how to live a healthy and satisfied life. The results might surprise those like Yellen; it turns out more “workforce participation” isn’t a driving force. Instead, researchers explained:
Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both the Harvard men and the inner-city participants.
The skill and grace with which Justice Amy Coney Barrett balances her family life and her work on the Supreme Court inspired children’s publishing house Heroes of Liberty (where I’m proud to serve as an editor) to release the book Amy Coney Barrett: A Justice and a Mother earlier this year. As a working mother of five children, including two daughters, I want them to look to someone like Justice Barrett as a role model and be empowered and inspired to aim for both a meaningful career and motherhood. I don’t want them believing the leftist lie that they have to choose one or the other.
As the end of Roe draws near, it’s been fascinating to watch how the left has attempted to paint anyone in opposition to abortion as automatically trying to transform women into Handmaids. Justice Barrett and Senator Tim Scott are living embodiments of just how false that narrative is.