The attaining of birth by the unborn is more than a matter of individual “choice,” but is a collective social decision, deriving from national consensus. Young pregnant women are uniquely susceptible to social pressures. Canadian culture today lays little stress upon child-rearing and its own biological perpetuation but imposes heavy economic liabilities upon women entrusted with the supremely important social task of bringing new life into society and nurturing that life in its formative years.
The decision by young women to prevent their children from achieving life is a decision by a society, which is wistful in its neglect of the people caring for children, and thereby continuing that society and imparting its values to the coming generation. The idea has gained currency in recent generations that the highest end for all human beings is the promotion of individual career advancement.
The sacrifice of innocent human life seen as a triumph
People who have invested their emotional lives in the idea of carefree advancement, or “upward mobility,” view new human lives as obstacles to themselves, and those perverse enough not to share this outlook must be pressed to prevent their pregnancies coming to term.
The idolaters of individualistic careerism treat the sacrifice of innocent human life in the name of their ideals as a triumph. Indeed, the practice of putting to death the helpless yond represents the exaltation of the most deeply cherished values of individualistic careerists.
The economics of child care
Contemporary society devalues childcare as a fit vocation for young women. The ideal of “liberation” is only achieved by turning away from caring for the young in favor of middle class professions, or even industrial occupations such as machining or steam fitting. Women caring for their own children are subject to ridicule and open contempt. Above all, women with children under their care are denied the elementary economics rights accord all other workers.
The Canadian government scorns the economic rights of women with children, as do many cultural leaders. There is much glib talk about “working mothers,” women with children who take jobs outside their homes. The implication is that women with children, who disdain to take jobs in factories, offices, etc., cannot be considered to be engaged in real work.
Child-care represents work. Those devoting their lives to it are required to expend much energy and almost unlimited time in the discharge of their duties. They are required to exercise a broad range of skills in furnishing care for their children. The work they perform in caring for their children is outstandingly valuable, when meassured by conventional economic criteria.
The average child of today will live to earn more than $1 million in his working career, and many will earn several times this. A woman with five children of above-average future incomes is in charge of future national wealth on the order of $12 million or more. Other workers charged with such heavy responsibilities receive compensation for their work.
Women furnishing childcare are economic beings and participants in the money economy. They are members of the labor force and deserving of fiscal respect. Women caring for children in the government day-care institutions are paid $10 an hour for their labors and those caring for the children in their own homes are entitled to realistic financial consideration.
Women taking children in care under foster-care programs are paid $11 a day in Ontario, or $330 a month, for each child, for providing such care. In logic and morality it is discrimination against natural motherhood not to provide comparable payments for those caring for their own children.
The prime economic fact that childcare is not a leisure-time activity, but among the most significant forms of economic activity, is illustrated by provincial welfare payments. The government of Ontario pays a monthly welfare allowance of $313 to a single person, and a monthly allowance of $582 to a single person with one child. The government of New Brunswick pays a monthly welfare allowance of $103 to a single person, and an allowance of $534 a month to a single person with one child.
This graduate schedule of payments is justified from the standpoint of the differing social responsibilities, and costs, of single persons, and persons with children. However, the categorical social imperative of furnishing greater economic resources to those engaged in the vital work of childcare is not recognized, regrettably, in other public policies.
The Canadian government has frozen the child personal income tax exemption at a derisive, depressed $710 per child. The Canadian government has also ended the practice of paying higher unemployment insurance benefits to recipients with children than to single persons. These measures dilute the effectiveness of these two programs in reducing the intense financial pressures under which women with children must live in our society.
Canada’s anemic family allowance program does not fulfill its critical social purpose owing to under funding. The average industrial wage in Canada since 1945, the year in which family allowances were introduce, has risen from $21 a week to $423 a week, and if family allowance payments had kept pace they would now be worth $140 a month for each child.
The government seems to promote the death of the unborn
If family allowance payments had kept pace with public spending on education in Canada, they would now be worth more than $400 a month for each child, and if they had kept pace with public spending on the aged, they would be worth $600 a month. To restore a reasonable degree of equity to family allowance payments, they should be boosted to the same level as Old Age Security pensions: $260.52 a month.
The decision by young women to destroy their unborn children is not a “personal” decision, or a matter of “choice.” They are pressed by a society obsessed with the blandishments of “upward mobility” and contemptuous of the value of child nurture. They are pressed by an economy, which viciously penalizes those entrusted with the care of children. They are pressed by a community, which condones landlords advertising “adult” buildings and public policies, which discourage the building of moderate-cost family housing.
Young women endowed with unborn lives are pressed by social workers, teachers,
families and contemporaries to destroy those lives. Canada will face up to the full dimensions of the moral outrage of abortion when it sees the achievement of life by the unborn and the nurture of children as social responsibilities which are national in scope and collective in character.
Edward Carrigan is a journalist living in Toronto