I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up the book Birth Strike, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized a big focus of the book is about how governments use population control as a lever for the economy. Women are expected to produce (or not produce) babies at the will of those who control the government, and as you know, the government in the USA is now partly controlled by corporate interests. It is to the advantage of corporations (aka employers of those future taxpayers that women give birth to), to keep the nation in a state of partial unemployment, in order to keep wages down, as people desperate for a job will take what they can get.
How does this relate to the current situation in the USA, where there is frequent talk of overturning the Roe v Wade ruling, which legalized abortion in 1973? Roe v Wade was possible in 1973 because in the wake of the baby boom, we had too many workers, according to the powers that be. In recent decades, however, millions of workers are not earning enough to support a family, and are delaying having children.
People of working/reproductive age in America today are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Many want to have children but can’t find a way to do so. The corporate backed governing powers want women to produce more future taxpayers, so that they can keep wages low, but are more often now refusing to own up to their own role in making it realistic for a woman to sustain a pregnancy and raise a child. Without things like universal early child care, flexible working hours, a living wage, health insurance benefits for all, and parental leave, many women are forced to remain childless. Trying to take away safe, legal abortion and birth control options in this situation is like pushing someone into the snow after taking away their clothes.
This is just my attempt to summarize what stuck with me most about this book, but I encourage you to read it, because the author, Jenny Brown, has a lot more to say. She presents good arguments for why universal programs are more effective than “means-tested” or “qualification-based” programs, discusses reproduction issues as they relate to race, as well as the use of immigration as a way to bring in more workers and how the notion of a big family goes along with the notion of small government. She also surveys abortion laws throughout history in a multitude of countries, talks about women feeling compelled to produce soldiers for war (aka “cannon fodder”), and presents interviews with a number of women, as well as consciousness-raising questions. Good reading!