In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Sen Tim Scott (R-SC) says “Abortion is not the way to help single Black mothers.” First, can he get any more patronizing? Some guy, who has never had to worry about an unwanted pregnancy, swans into the room and tells women he knows what’s best for them. Second, how does removing a constitutional right benefit the person who loses it? Let’s look at his reasoning.
Scott starts with a hagiography of his mother, saying she worked 64 hours a week to raise Scott and his brother and to “keep food on the table and the lights on”. It makes you wonder where he stands on the minimum wage — spoiler alert, he is against raising it.
I am glad for Scott that he was able to benefit from the American dream — elevating himself from poverty to the US Senate in one generation. But anecdotes are not evidence. And children are not the best judges of the trials and tribulations of their parents, who usually put the best spin on difficult circumstances for their kids.
Next, Scott reports on remarks made by Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen. According to him, she said,
“I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy.”
She went on to say how abortion affects “particularly low-income and often Black” mothers and how a lack of access to abortion “deprives them of the ability often to continue their education to later participate in the workforce.”
Scott was horrified. He asked,
“Was Yellen making the case for how abortion is good for America’s labor force?”
No, she was not. She clearly said that lack of choice hurts women because it could deny them educational and professional opportunities. But Scott chose not to hear Yellen’s respect for individual rights. Instead, he created a strawman argument — misrepresenting what Yellen said to criticize an argument she did not make.
Next, Scott goes on to write.
If abortion is our first and “best” answer to ensure that women and low-income families can thrive economically, the United States has reached one of its darkest times in our history.
Where is anyone saying that abortion is the “first and best answer”? Yellen was talking about choice because it is on everyone’s mind due to Alito’s rights-stripping, Roe-overturning opinion. Ask a liberal what will help “women and low-income families thrive economically” and they will talk about child care, universal pre-K, parental leave, affordable higher education, and increasing the minimum wage. Scott supports none of that.
He says the road to prosperity is dependent on changing the tax code. He writes,
When it comes to our economic challenges, we need to have a hard conversation about policies that actually work. In 2017, I was one of the architects of reforming the personal side of the tax code. Within those reforms, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for single parents from $9,300 to $18,000. Those changes cut single moms’ federal taxes by 70 percent. They led to the average American household keeping up to $4,000 more of their hard-earned money.
I have left the links in Scott’s polemic because they do not support his claims. Nowhere does he cite a source that says the taxes on a single mom’s federal taxes were cut by 70%. Perhaps they were on average. But as the tax tables he refers to include incomes over $400,000, I suspect that most of the tax cuts went to the wealthiest single parents. And if that is not enough, many Republicans think the poor should pay more tax.
His last claim is the most bullshitty one. The average American household may keep $4,000 — but that average includes families earning millions. Those at the bottom will not see anything like $4,000.
Scott also throws in an old chestnut about an early pioneer of reproductive rights. He writes,
The claim is simply false and echoes the egregious arguments made in the early 20th century by Margaret Sanger in support of the eugenics movement.
Yellen is not echoing Margaret Sanger. Sanger believed in abortion and eugenics. Nowhere does Yellen give favorable mention to eugenics.
Let us also consider the definition of eugenics: “the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition.” It is a policy forced by people in power on a supposed “inferior” population.
Women being free to choose their reproductive course are not practicing eugenics. There is generally no compulsion. And in the instances where someone is trying to compel a woman to have an abortion, the motivation is never to improve the population’s genetic composition.
The hard truth is that the Alito decision takes away a right that American women of all backgrounds have been entitled to for 49 years. And they do not need a man, of any background, explaining how that is good for them.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.