The alarming implications of Alito’s “domestic supply of infants” footnote.

A “domestic supply of infants” is exactly what the framers of the 14th Amendment intended to abolish.

Second only to the creeping chatter of state birth control bans, the speedy pivot to celebrating forced birth and adoption is chilling. It’s chilling not just because it discounts the extortionate emotional and financial costs of childbirth and the increased medical risks of forced childbirth. It’s chilling because it lifts us out of a discussion about privacy and bodily autonomy and into a regime in which babies are a commodity and pregnant people are vessels in which to incubate them. If this sounds like a familiar, albeit noxious, economic concept, it’s because it is.

The economics of chattel slavery itself reflects a long, sordid history of using women’s bodies to incubate babies for the benefit of others, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of “substantive due process”—much derided by Republicans and Alito—was an effort to put an end to that practice. References to “safe havens” and the depleted domestic supply of adoptable babies are terrifying because this is exactly what the 14th Amendment sought to curtail.

The argument that forced birth is justified because other people can have enjoyment of the resulting children sends us tumbling deeper down the rabbit hole into commodifying babies and conscripting their mothers. This is hardly a practice that ended with slavery. Recall that removing babies from their parents was the animating theory behind the Canadian residential school atrocities and that, as Rebecca Nagle notes of Alito’s claims about the domestic baby supply, “for decades, the adoption industry has filled this gap disproportionately with children from communities of color—first through international adoption and now foster care.”

If you believe in fetal personhood, or that “abortion is never medically necessary to save a woman’s life,” while directing shrinking resources toward parental leave, child hunger, health care, and poverty, and while threatening to cut off contraception access, you must justify forcing women to carry pregnancies to term regardless of the dangers to their own health and lives, regardless of cost, and regardless of the misery they or their children may suffer. One way around that thorny ethical dilemma is to simply assert that such children will be efficiently transferred to alternate parents who will value them.

Source: The alarming implications of Alito’s “domestic supply of infants” footnote.

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