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Fertility Control as State Policy & Demographic Crisis

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:21 pm    Post subject: Fertility Control as State Policy & Demographic Crisis Reply with quote

I feel that I should not be in this part of the forum but I count this as a women's issue, or rather an issue that women typically feel more passionately about than men and for the most part, given the women I know, feel that it is more their business than men's. I have not even got a lot to say about it at the moment that is well informed.

The point that I have in mind is that whilst contraception and abortion are broadly to be seen as positive things, ugly and upsetting though the latter can be ( if you have ever been involved ), they have political consequences and can be suspected as not so much a woman's right to choose when and in what circumstances to have children, but as the state's right to choose when and in what circumstances it will allow people to breed. When I say ' it ' I ought to say that I mean by that the community of interest, or communities of interests, that control the state.

For those of us born in the 1960's, access to birth control has seemed to be natural and the nightmare of back street abortions that the preceding generation endured is the stuff of folk history almost. When we came of age circa 1980 we entered a Wales of mass youth unemployment and it was natural to put off having a family until we established ourselves financially - but we never did. Many of us got caught up in a pattern of low pay and job insecurity, some of us ended up in chronic unemployment. It is difficult to establish exactly how much poverty has plagued our generation but the falling birth rate has not merely been about people choosing to have children later in life as a life style choice : people have chosen not to have children because their life style has been one of chronic poverty and they did not want to bring up children without the means to support them. Those who did have children have often been haunted by their responsibilities, and poverty has been the foremost cause of family breakdown. A lot of bitter things have been said about feckless fathers and reckless single-parent mothers, but poverty also deeply effects those who stayed together and they never receive any praise for their struggles to bring up children in adverse circumstances - rather they are pilloried for having feral children because both parents try to hold down jobs in order to keep the economic basis of their family together.

The fact that this situation exists is reflected in the development of the welfare state, or rather the wealthfare state which is now directed not at supporting those few who are in some deep social crisis such as unemployment or sickness, but instead at supporting the many firms that do not pay a wage that a family can even live in poverty upon. First the Conservative's and then Labour's politicians ( and now Liberal ones too ) regularly attack those who are unemployed or sick as scroungers, but the real beneficiaries of the wealthfare state are the wealthiest, those extremely wealthy whose companies profit from this subsidy and do not pay their taxes - and those who do pay taxes and complain about those receiving benefits whilst enjoying the cheap goods and services that they finance.

In an economic depression such as is happening now, the financial pressure is really put on the poor and it is clear that the birth rate is falling still further in Wales because we are on average more poor than most in the UK and we are likely to see the birth rate falling below the death rate this decade. This suits those who do pay taxes fine, because when the economy picks up again those who do not pay taxes will simply recruit from countries outside of the UK. Does this matter ? Yes : young people are going to leave Wales during this economic depression and if they secure employment elsewhere they are not going to return, whereas when the economy picks up again their places in our economy are going to be filled by immigrants. This is not about being nasty about people from Bangladesh or even Birmingham, nor even about the survival of the Welsh language and culture, it is about the fabric of our society becoming shredded to the point where it will not function. There is plenty of evidence that this process has already been under way for decades - and there are other factors involved that are more directly to do with the use / abuse of birth control.

Many of us decided that, given the cash needed to start a home and the money needed to support a wife with young children ( and I am assuming here that despite our radical credentials most of us have found that variations on the traditional family structure are to be favoured as the most practical arrangement of our domestic affairs ), we would wait until we had secure employment, some money under our belts and had found our one and only true love - and would settle down to married life around thirty. The model that people now seem to think works has apparently become to aim to persuade our parents to retire early and coincidentally start having children at that very moment that they become available for babysitting, which means that people are trying to have children after thirty five and getting a nasty shock : our wives' bodies are not responding to the economic system that the UK has created for them. So much for patriarchal politics then ...

From a Feminist Republican perspective, the future of the nation lies in our children and women have to be the nation's guardians because men are, fairly obviously, simply not facing up to the political realities if the governments that they create can produce a society that denies point blank the facts of human biology. It is not just that so many women who had no choice but to accept this crazy state of affairs and hoped for children later in life have been disappointed by the technological fixes devised by men to overcome their declining fertility, but that women are more accutely aware in their self-appointed or imposed roles of carers in our society that the demographics of our ageing population are also telling against them. Medical priorities decided by the male political agenda are also creating problems by delaying death as well as birth.

Let us forget about modern society for a moment and think back to when life was nasty, brutish and short - the whole reason why politics, marriage and medicine were invented as remedies, may be. We would be married early, have several children and if we survived we would die around seventy. Human biology has evolved in such a way that parents do not die before the last children that we have grow old enough to fend for themselves, and the first children that we have give their children over to us as baby sitters whilst they go out hunting and gathering. A lot of children died before maturity and adults died often, so human society had a naturally pyramidical age structure and apparently people lived in extended families where everybody of whatever age could receive suitable care for their needs. This structure survived in socities based on agriculture but disappeared more or less with the industrial revolution, and arguably with it disappeared that which lay at the heart of that communal life - the community of women who regulated a large portion of such societies' affairs, even if such traditional societies were nominally patriarchal.

If there ever was such matriarchal control over traditional agricultural societies' domestic communities, it was lost when people started flooding into the industrialised societies communities because of women becoming economically dependent upon men's wages. Women not only ceased to be economically interdependent upon each other in the domestic sphere, they ceased to be the producers of goods because their role came to be purchasers of goods produced in factories by men using money earned by men. Women became dependent upon men rather than interdependent with them, reduced to being providers of services of all sorts - cooking, cleaning, laundering, listening, flattering, fucking - except in the one area of production that men could only help in : pregnancy and child rearing. Since in a 19c industrial community an essential aspect of the economics of production was obtaining a supply of workers trained to be obedient to the manufacturers' demands, obtaining and training women for their unpaid role in the production upon demand of babies was a high priority, and the introduction of state education was designed as much to usurp the authority of the mother in child rearing as it was to train the child in obedience to authority. In Wales we take note of the use in the 19c of the education system to undermine the authority of the mother by derogating the language that she spoke to her chidren in.

Just as in late 19c Wales mothers were praised for producing children but not given the means to provide for them once their husbands had been maimed or murdered in the mines, and would have been prosecuted for aborting or killing children that they could not provide for, so in early 21st Wales we find mothers being vilified for producing children and the means to provide for them being witheld if their husbands are unemployed or ill, and praised for not getting pregnant or aborting children thatthey can not provide for. To put it very bluntly, it means that it is all about cash and a woman's right to choose is nothing more than a political policy established in the interests of those communities that control the state. That policy is creating the demographic crisis within Wales that is shredding our society.

So, is there a Feminist Republican remedy for this crisis ? Well there should be some sort of Feminist view upon it with a Republican slant : the word ' nation ' derives from the very idea of ' birth ' and it is women who will give birth to the future of the Welsh nation in the choices that they make and the interests of womens' communities are at variance with those of men's communities in Wales. A Republican remedy would involve an attempt to reconcile the interests of both men and women, but women have heard this before : it could translate into the equivilent of some Nazi style programme of procreation for a political cause akin to that taking place in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or to that allegation made against Catholics in Northern Ireland that they intend to alter the political demographics in favour of outnumbering Protestants so that Republicans can out-vote Unoinists and reunite Ireland. To talk of ' women ' is to obscure the fact that women are not a political faction, that they have diverse interests and political viewpoints and are not even united by such a thing as a shared grudge against men. The demographic crisis that is descending upon Wales will not be born equally by all women because they are differently resourced, but they will face - either separately or together - the same problem : the difficulty of bringing this major issue to the attention of those in government because of the multiple defects of the political system in the UK.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:03 pm    Post subject: Dai on birth control Reply with quote

I hadn't thought before that the word 'nation' was related to 'natal' and 'native'. I agree, of course, that abortion must always be the choice of the individual woman,unpleasant as it can be. When a fetish is made of foetal life -even when it can't be saved-we see episodes of sanctimonious sadism such as the indirect murder of the Indian dentist in Ireland.

It's not an improvement either when the state tries to impose contraception, abortion or sterilisation. Take the former Ukip candidate who said there should be compulsory abortion for a foetus with spina bifida or Down's syndrome. It's not just that this shows an unpleasant and ignorant attitude to disabled people - has he ever heard of Tani Grey-Thompson?-but it's a total violation of bodily autonomy. A doctor currently can't operate on a patient without permission whether expressed or implied.It would be assault. People who advocate these policies have no idea what it is to live in a civilized society.

Yet there is no such thing as totally free choice anyway. We don't live in a vacuum.,The best time medically for a woman to have a child is in her twenties, but this is also the time when it's most vital to be economically active if possible. There are more births statistically now to those over thirty five or in their teens, and these are often high risk pregnancies.

Is there ever a good time to have children? The future may look promising but you can never control life. Something can always come along and knock you sideways. April Jones' parents devoted themselves to her. They were excellent. It looked as if the health problems she was born with would not be a major issue because they did everything that could be done. Then obscene tragedy came out of a clear blue sky. Francis Bacon was right on this. If you have children, you'll always be giving hostages to fortune.
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