Refusing To Subsidize Services For Women Is Not Waging War On Them

Republicans often propose and pass legislation that makes women’s lives more difficult and dangerous. Right now Republicans in Arizona want women to watch their children die. Republicans often try make it hard or impossible for women to access birth control.

But when the New York Times writes about Republicans versus women, they very quickly cut to pointing out that Republicans want to cut federal funding of services to women. Not subsidizing something, or subsidizing it less, is not waging war on it. There is a huge difference between keeping someone from accessing something, like when Republican legislatures put restrictions on abortion, and just trying to avoid funding it, like when Republicans try to cut or restrict federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Statists will often attempt to conflate the two. They try to scare women by claiming that if Planned Parenthood is defunded abortions will be harder to come by. But it’s first very unlikely that Republicans will ever defund Planned Parenthood. And even if they succeeded, Planned Parenthood could continue to operate with private donations. 

As long as abortion stays legal, even if all government support stops, it will still available as long as there’s a market for it. Abortions might become more expensive in the short term after all government funding is withdrawn, but not vastly, and not for long, as private donations to new nonprofits come in and replace funding. 

In fact, real abortion access proponents should advocate for defunding, as history has shown that when there’s a market for something and the government stops subsidizing it, it actually gets cheaper and better due to increased competition and innovation among private providers of low-cost offerings. 

On the other hand, banning or restricting abortion really does keep women from being able to safely cheaply access it in the immediate and long term. When demand for abortion is higher or broader than what the legal market can provide, it forces women to either not have abortions they would otherwise have, or to find them via the black market. 

Only bans and restrictions are real assaults on women. Calling defunding warfare is crying wolf, delegitimizing arguments against real legislative threats to women’s health and safety. Statists would be well served to remember that a government big enough to pay for your abortion is big enough to try to take it away.

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