Bursting your filter bubble since 2020

The cost of pregnancy and childbirth in the USA

04 June, 2020 — Jenny Brown and Daniel James
Video at: https://youtu.be/2aDDdIa5kBQ

Jenny: I've been a feminist and labour activist most of my life, and I worked from 2003 to 2013 trying to get the morning-after pill available over the counter in the United States. When we started, dozens of countries already had this including the UK, and so we campaigned; we had a lawsuit, we sat in at the FDA, and we finally got the FDA to recommend putting the pill over-the-counter for all ages.

The newly-elected administration of Barack Obama overruled the FDA, saying he did not want his children, his young daughters, to be able to access the morning-after pill which is as everybody knows after-sex contraception that prevents pregnancy, and so we were a little surprised that the Obama administration had taken this position, and as we started to think about why is it that opposition to birth control had become mainstream, I mean, we had grumbled about the Democratic Party, but it still largely seemed to support reproductive rights, and this sort of showed that we were really going backwards.

Meanwhile, you had the Republican Party openly attacking birth control. I was working for the Redstockings Women's Liberation Archives at the time, and so we started to delve into some of the history around the struggle for birth control in the United States and also abortion.

That's basically what got us started on this book, we looked at the history of birth control strictures in the United States; birth control and abortion were entirely legal until the 1870s, so why was there a crackdown? We looked at that, and then we looked at our own experience of having children or deciding not to, and that's what later turned into this book.

Daniel: For those of us who don't live in the US and are not aware, the US had legislation, I believe it was around 1873, the Comstock bill actually prevented access to contraception.

Jenny: Yes, while the UK was loosening up a little bit actually, the US cracked down, and the main arguments made for it were that the women were avoiding the duties and responsibilities of married life by having abortions, and that was decreasing, specifically, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant birthrate.

At the time there was quite a lot of immgration, there would be even more immigration soon. There was panic about the Catholic birthrate, and so that was very much on the minds of the doctors who were trying to crack down.

It was not really led by religious authorities, it was mostly led by doctors who were trying to establish themselves as a profession, and really get rid of the midwives and irregular doctors, mostly women, who had been providing a lot of the care at the time. So there was also sort of an internal struggle within the medical profession to turn it over to the more scientific and professional class, who could then take it over.

So then what followed were a hundred years of abortion and birth control being restricted, to various degrees, abortion almost entirely until 1973, and then birth control at various points and in various states becoming loosened, but it wasn't until 1972 that every state had birth control available to unmarried people. I mean in '65 it was loosened up for married people.

So it's very much contentious even at the time that abortion was legalised. Birth control was still not displayed in stores, there were all kinds of restrictions, especially in states that had large Catholic populations.

Daniel: I've read your book 'Birth Strike' from PM Press, and I think it's fair to say the main argument of the book is that this is not just an ethical or religious question, it's an economic and a political question. Would that be a fair appraisal?

Jenny: Yeah, I mean, what we learned from reading the Redstockings archives, there's a lot of material about the struggle to get abortion legalised in the 1960s in the United States, and then the main enemy was the Catholic Church, but it was also a period when we had the highest birth rate we'd ever had in the United States.

So the argument around the birth rate really was not a live argument, in fact there was considerable panic about overpopulation both in the United States and abroad, because most countries had gone through a demographic transition at that point when births were exceeding deaths because of sanitation, antibiotics, and so there was considerable panic especially among ruling class people who were worried that overpopulation would lead to hunger, and that would lead to communist revolution.

So they were very scared about many more Vietnams, Vietnam being the colonial power that really after World War Two started the ball rolling on trying to win liberation, so they were very worried about that, and went out with all kinds of birth control programs to the third world, and tried to impose it on India and Egypt and so forth.

By '75 the population panic has turned into a worry about dropping birth rates, partly because in the US birth control pills became available in 1960 and then abortion became available in 1973, and of course before abortion was available there were a lot of illegal abortions, so people were controlling their their reproduction, and so I think that the feminist movement, in the US at least, has not been aware of the birth rate issue because it arose at a time when the birth rate was really... the ruling class was panicking about a high birth rate, so it just didn't seem like it was an issue.

Now we have a birth rate of 1.72 which might sound high in the European context, but it's the lowest ever in the US. 1.72 children per woman which is below the standard 2.1 children per woman that's regarded as replacement rate. That was expected to rise after the quote-unquote "recovery" from the Great Recession, but we have not seen much of a recovery for working class people from the US. In fact it's been a continued slow downward slog of wages and whatnot until very recently, so the birth rate has continued to drop and it was very clear to us in our group why that was happening.

You know, when we did consciousness-raising where we went around the room and compared our experiences, many of us had decided to have no children or have one child and then stop because of the difficulty of raising them under the conditions that we faced, which include very long working hours for both spouses, most people have access to very little paid maternity leave, in most cases, two weeks if that, we have access theoretically to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but it's extremely hard to take unpaid leave, just at that moment when you're having a child, when you have extra expenses, and then we don't have guaranteed health care in the US.

The expenses... it's all dependent on your employer, if you're laid off you lose your insurance, as we're seeing now with the Covid epidemic, of people not having insurance, ironically in a moment when they need it the most, and we have a very fragmented, expensive childcare system which receives very little funding, and so these four issues: health care, child care, paid leave and work time have really been a focus for our group, because women are experiencing this double-day so to speak, where you work eight hours or more at your job, and then you come home and do another eight hours of cleaning and child care, and housework and shopping and laundry, and that kind of stuff. So we could see why in the US there's a lower than ever birth rate just looking at our own lives.

Daniel: One of the things that really surprised me about the book is that in the US it seems that you you actually pay to have a baby in hospital, through your insurance if you have that. That seemed really unusual to me, coming from a European point of view, that you would actually be presented with a bill after giving birth. I just couldn't even relate to that at all, it's nothing like our experience here in Europe I don't think, and I understand that some insurance companies treat pregnancy a pre-existing condition. Is that is that a thing with health insurance?

Jenny: Yes, you are, so for example before the reforms in 2010 or 2011, I was required by my insurance company if I decided to have a child, I had to buy a particular extra policy to cover that, before I got pregnant, right? So in that year I had to predict, you're kind of playing the lottery, and then paying an extra 200 bucks a month or something for that extra coverage. So if you go into a hospital and have a baby without any insurance you're probably gonna be stuck with a bill of around $60,000 which is...

Daniel: Wow!

Jenny: ...you know, like the average household income for a year, not the individual income. However, if you have insurance, you are still uncovered for certain things, so you would have a deductible, you would have what they call co-insurance, they had all these names to it: co-insurance, co-pays, deductibles, and it would all add up... and you're already paying for your insurance, right? Either through your job or individually, it adds up to about thirteen or fourteen thousand dollars just to have the child.

And then anything extra, of course, would be an extra expense, so if you have a premature birth down there in the ICU that could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars. With insurance that would generally be covered, but if you don't have insurance or you don't have adequate insurance, that is not covered, and of course it's through your job, so you have to keep your job to keep that insurance.

And, your baby will have its own deductible when it's born, say you had a four thousand dollar deductible, you start again at zero, and the baby has four thousand dollars that you have to pay if it needs any care.

Daniel: It's born into debt, in effect!

Jenny: It's a scam, it's a total scam! It's just incredible that we allow that we allow this system to work this way, but it does.

Daniel: Whenever you see a movie from Hollywood, TV show or whatever, they have the maternity ward sequence, but they never show the invoicing, right? From outside of the US, this is just completely mind-blowing to us that anybody could be treated that way, just for the simple natural act of giving birth, but you know, here we are!

Jenny: Just to give you an idea of the ridiculousness, if you want an epidural, which is a painkiller, and it's not covered under your insurance, you know, we've had situations where the husband has to run around and get cash out of an ATM, so that the wife can get an epidural, I mean, it's just barbaric.

Daniel: And then they wonder why the birth rate is going down! So, this birth rate of 1.72 you mentioned, that's an average across all social groups and racial groups, presumably?

Jenny: It's an average across racial groups, although the birth rate has generally been higher for black women and Latinas, it has also been dropping sort of commensurate with the white birth rate, so while it's still slightly higher, the drop has been similar.

Daniel: Do you think that's because the contemporary economy is bringing a lot more women into the workplace, because it can pay them less, because if they have certain skills that the economy wants, what's responsible do you think for this increase in the female workforce?

Jenny: Well... we saw a sharp increase in the female workforce in the '70s and '80s, and then it has been fairly steady, but high, most women even with small children work, so I think what we're seeing, as unions have been undermined and there's been jobs shed due to automation, and it's become much more difficult to have a say on the job, the work hours have increased, you know you're asked to stay late, you're given extra tasks, you're asked to, in some cases, punch out and then work off the clock, and because people are desperate, have come out of this 2008 depression with an utter fear of losing their jobs, they're willing to buckle under and do these extra tasks, and they, you know, they are very scared of losing their jobs.

I think that has had a tremendous effect, where you really don't have the time. The other thing that we're seeing is that housing is, as we saw in 2008, the housing bubble, housing is an asset it's not a use-value, so we've seen housing prices just go up tremendously, so it's very difficult. New York which is the epicentre of this housing crisis, although it's in most large urban areas as well, and I'm sure you have it in most large urban areas too in the UK, basically, a lot of young women are living with four roommates, they cannot imagine how they would actually form a household family in this space that they have, so I think that has also been a factor, and then our wages have been stagnant, so it really is just a matter of how do you make ends meet?

Daniel: So, you called your book "Birth Strike", how did you come up with that title, that concept, to describe the situation?

Jenny: Well, it was originally used in the early 1900s to describe birth control, essentially, Emma Goldman the anarchist orator, described her lecture on birth control as her birth strike lecture, and it just seemed evocative because our sense is that people are not coordinatedly striking, but we are facing difficult conditions and reacting to that, and our idea is that if we understood that we were all reacting to difficult conditions rather than blaming ourselves, and saw it as a political rather than a personal thing, that we could start to make some demands on the system and make it easier to both have children and decide not to have children, because what we're seeing is both restrictions on birth control and abortion, and difficulty with childcare and all of the other things.

A lot of people are blaming themselves: "Oh, if I hadn't gone into so much debt for school, if I could just find a good apartment, if I didn't work so many hours, if I'd chosen another career..." You know, people tend to think that it must be something that they did wrong. But the system is designed to extract the maximum unpaid labour from us, I mean, we had a situation in the post-war period in the United States where we actually did achieve a family wage, and that meant that the employers were actually putting something in for the family care job, because you had one breadwinner's wage covering the home making job and raising the kids.

Well, we don't want to go back to that system, but we do want employers to put in something towards the family care work, and what we've been experiencing now is, we're doing 80 hours where we did 40 in that post-war period. As a couple you're contributing 80 hours of paid work, but then we're trying to have raised kids in the spare time, you know, after two jobs and it's just incredibly difficult.

Daniel: One of the main themes I read from your book was this idea that politicians have worried themselves about falling birth rates, in particular, in the context of the US and its immigration history. Do you think that's something that's fueling the conspiracy theories like the "great replacement" that gets talked about a lot by far-right commentators, and this idea that the white birth rate is declining faster than other birth rates and so the white people have to somehow make women have more babies?

Jenny: Yeah, that is definitely a factor, I'm not an expert on the European situation, but in the US it has definitely been a factor for many right wing commentators. In the US context it's called the Reconquest, meaning Mexicans taking back over the land that was stolen from them by the US, but I guess the main exponent of this would be the paleo-conservative writer Patrick Buchanan, who was a Nixon speechwriter and had various positions in various administrations. He wrote a book called "The Death of the West" and in there he describes the birth control pill as the suicide pill of the West. I mean, I don't know how much more explicit you can be. And, you know in the US, it's just insane, the US being a settler country, we're all immigrants on some level, unless you're a native person, right?

So the idea that some wave of immigrants is going to destroy our quote-unquote "way of life" is just completely mind-boggling. I mean, New York wouldn't be New York without all the different waves of immigrants that have come and built this city. That's where I am, so I'm referring there. The idea that their "whiteness" has had to be created, in the US it didn't actually exist as a concept; you were English, or you were German, or you were Irish, sure, you were Italian! It had to be sort of patched together, and now it's being used against immigrants who are quote-unquote "not white". It's as though these cultures are not as different from each other as they are from, say, you know, Bangladeshi culture or Dominican culture or, you know, Chinese culture.

I think the the political stuff behind it is mostly a way to appeal to this working class that has now been defined as "white" in the US, and divide us against the parts of the working class that are defined as "not white", and meanwhile, you know, employers and bankers laugh all the way to their vacation spots, and tax havens. That's really kind of the scam that is being run on the US people, I'm not sure that that's what's going on in Europe but it's certainly what's going on here.

Daniel: I think that's very relatable, yeah! So, do you think the pressure because of these theories about white people, not being enough of them or whatever, they informed people like Obama to maybe take a step back from fully endorsing things like easily available contraception, because he thought he'd get this sort of backlash, you know? Is that an area he didn't want to go into?

Jenny: I'm not sure you know, I puzzle over the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is pro-immigration, it has sort of settled on immigration as the solution to what it sees as demographic lows, of lower population growth, and I should say that the reason they're so concerned about lower population growth is not wages necessarily, they're able to keep our wages down quite efficiently without it.

It's mostly consumers, the lack of consumers which, you know, the general growth of the economy is reliant on growth in the population, so that is the main concern, and in addition to worries about how are we going to fund retirees with a smaller working-age population, and of course the way they could do that is they could tax the rich, but they don't want to do that, so that's why it becomes a concern, you know, quote-unquote "concern", "oh, this is so concerning", they really would like to put the burden back on the families, and if families are smaller they can't efficiently do that, so those are the reasons that they're worried about that.

So the Democrats have settled on immigration. Now, one thing that all of the employers in this coalition who want immigration have agreed on is that they don't want immigrants to have rights, so the perfect way to resolve that contradiction for them is to use "guest worker" programs, in which you have to keep your job, you are completely dependent on your employer, you cannot quit or object.

There are all sorts of versions of this, so there are various visas where you have to keep your income up to a certain level to retain the visa, or you have to have a certain skill that is required by employers to have the visa, or in that case of agricultural workers and other quote-unquote "non-skilled", (because of course, as we know, agricultural workers are extremely skilled but just not recognised as skilled), in those what are called "non-skilled" worker slots they have, basically, a seasonal visa where you actually are kicked back out of the country, and this is perfect for economic planners because it means that if unemployment rises you can just kick everybody out of the country, and so that gives them flexibility therein, and they don't have to provide services to unemployed people who are in those categories. So it's got all kinds of economic advantages.

So I think for Obama it wasn't necessarily pandering on birth control, I think there just is this idea that women need to take responsibility and have children, it's sort of translated through that, it's not explicit that we need a higher birth rate, at least they generally don't make it explicit, occasionally some politician will bust out with this, but it's not really explicit.

I'm not exactly clear what's going on with the Democratic Party on birth control, they do generally support birth control in that Obamacare, which is the health care reform also known as the Affordable Care Act, did require insurance companies to pay for birth control, not abortion, that was a big fight and we lost that one, but birth control.

So it's not clear exactly, I think they are worried about whenever birth control comes up, they are very worried about.. It's always "what about the kids, what about the kids?" you know, and they use that as kind of a hysterical talking point too, and with the morning-after pill I think he sort of succumbed to that "what about the kids?" thing, which is ironic since you know, the age of first sex in the United States has been pretty stable around fifteen for the last 40 years, so these politicians also had sex when they were young teenagers you know, they have a double standard about it, when it's their kids.

Daniel: It seems that if they really really wanted to make things easier for women in the US they could provide more child care do, you know, have health care plans that cover all of your maternity expenses, and there are some very obvious and things they could do to make the system a bit more European in style, but why do you think they haven't gone there?

Jenny: Well, in the health care case it's very clear, I mean the health insurance companies are making a bundle, and they have a stranglehold... they have concentrated actually on Democratic Party politicians, so for example Joe Biden, our presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party to go up against Trump in the fall, comes from a state, Delaware, which has a lot of insurance interests. They've really cultivated the the party that they think is most likely to go against them in the end, which is the Democrats.

Health insurance is such an enormous industry in the United States, I mean, it and health itself is such an enormous part of our economy, that if you were to euthanise the health insurance companies that would also be a big blow for large banks, and other services, other legal services, all the different services that they provide, they're very entrenched in our version of capitalism, so that makes it very difficult to dislodge them, but I don't think it's impossible, it's just been very difficult.

I mean, we're already spending more in public funds on health care in the US than most countries spend to cover their entire population. We're not saving money on this, we're actually spending more, and we spend more per capita on health care than than any country by about another third, so... it's really not a matter of expenditure, it's a matter of redirecting the money from insurance company profits to to care.

Now, on child care, creating a child care system, a national child care system with good standards and a unionised workforce would be an expense, so that is basically just a pure anti-tax position, I think. They'd much rather have little tiny programs that support people who are desperately poor, and then let the people who are just above that level, you know, scramble and pay out of their meagre wages for greater childcare. So that's basically just they want to save money.

Daniel: Do you think it's the case if you can say "Look we have this emergency provision for the worst-off people, which we have made a tax-deductible charitable donation to", they can say "Well, we've done something", but it actually only addresses the fringe, if you like, the most desperate people, rather than the majority of people. Is that a phenomenon that you're seeing?

Jenny: Yeah, they don't want to institute universal programs because that creates social solidarity for one thing, but it also makes people less dependent on their employers, and so less desperate to keep a job when they're being mistreated and so forth, right down the line. So that's the reason that you have large corporations which would actually save money on their health care like, famously, General Motors would have saved a bunch of money if it had supported a national healthcare system, because the unions had extracted pretty good health care coverage, but it was against their interests as an employer, as part of the employing class, to have national health care, so they opposed it, despite it being bad for their own bottom line! So I think that's the main reason that people are seeing obstacles to this kind of change, you know, essentially it's a question of class power.

Daniel: So how's the current situation with coronavirus, Covid-19, layering on top of this existing very difficult situation for women in the US?

Jenny: Yeah, well, I'm hearing from women with small children that it's really dire. So they're juggling their often work-from-home job with home schooling essentially because there's only so much instruction that teachers can provide through a video link, especially for smaller kids, and then there's a great balkanised number of websites and programmes that you have to constantly be logging into, and juggling, and dealing with at the same time you're theoretically also doing your own job, so it's just really exhausting, and of course scary too, because you're trying to clean everything that comes in the house, you're trying to make sure that your child doesn't come in contact with something that would then carry the virus. I mean, it's just been very nerve-wracking.

I did see a funny... somebody did a survey of whether the housework and childcare was being split equitably, and the headline was "Fifty percent of men say they're doing more than half of the homeschooling, three percent of women agree", so there is a perception gap about how much work is being done by by male spouses in these situations.

And then the worst thing that you hear about is that the rate of domestic violence is going up, because people don't have anywhere else that they can go in many cases, and you have this pressure cooker of not being able to. In New York we can leave the house for solo exercise or to get essentials like groceries, or go to a necessary doctor appointment, so it's not that we are locked inside, but if you live in a big building, each time you leave, you're going into the stairwell or the elevator, you're worried about what you might pick up on the way down, and touching all the door handles and everything.

It's just... you feel that every excursion is a risk, and so you try to minimize it. So that's the situation here. I mean, in other parts of the country where they really haven't taken this seriously, and they're starting to see many more deaths, I mean, we have had a plateau here in New York, but they're starting to see many more deaths, and in other parts they haven't had quite the lockdown that we have, and unfortunately they're gonna see gonna see more deaths as a result.

Daniel: So how are families coping? I mean, are people running out of cash, food? Yeah, I mean, I was just listening to a call-in radio show with the sort of "food czar" for the New York area, and they claim that they are providing food to people, but people are calling in say "it's been weeks". These are, for example, a large housing project with a lot of seniors who are not supposed to even be going out and getting groceries, the housing project is supposed to provide food, but again and again people are not getting the food that they have been promised, or they're not able to get through to get the food, to even sign up and register for it. Why they are requiring people to register is beyond me, but it's just terrifying.

And then you have the unemployment system. So the unemployment compensation system has been completely overwhelmed, and they set up a parallel system that was supposed to help people get through, well, that worked in that people were able to register as unemployed, but apparently a great number of the people who did that ended up in some 'box' somewhere, where they haven't gotten called back, there's a glitch, right? So they they received something that said "your application has been completed"... and then nothing, so, they're supposed to have a phone call from the Department of Labor, but they haven't had that phone call, and so they've been waiting weeks and weeks and running out of cash.

So it's really really difficult, and tensions are rising, but of course you can't go out and protest because that risks getting the virus! And then in the hospitals, we've seen the nurses have been protesting for more personal protective gear, and they have actually been able to win some demands by doing these sort of very creative demonstrations, of either standing outside six feet apart, or car caravans in other places where it's more feasible, you know, protests, and then workers in Amazon warehouses have been protesting, there's actually a strike today among other essential workers, so...

There's been a lot of protest and demand, which has helped, but the federal government have been completely absent, and even the money that has been allocated has not been actually delivered in many cases, so while Congress put in a significant package - two trillion dollars - a lot of that has either gone to large corporations that don't need it, or has not actually been provided.

In the case of the hospitals in our region, a couple of hospitals have received a few million dollars, but there's five billion still sitting waiting to be allocated, it's not being provided. The government has been cut away and cut away, and people have been laid off, and then it's just been attenuated to the extent that when you have a crisis like this, where you need some capacity, they don't have the capacity to deal with it.

Daniel: In your book "Birth Strike" you wrote about this idea of the double day shift, women working in the economy and then working in the home. Is it almost like a triple day shift at the moment, with all this extra schooling and cleaning and you know housework, on top of the normal stuff? I mean surely, this must be intolerable?

Jenny: Yeah, I think a triple day is a very good way of describing it, because you're trying to work your own job, if you still have a job, and you're trying to do this, and then you're essentially fulfilling the role that the school normally does or the childcare would, and then you you also have the cleaning, and then of course there's more cleaning and more cooking, because everybody's home all the time, and more laundry and more of everything, so that's a very good description, and people are really frazzled.

Daniel: I bet, yeah, and it's interesting to note that, I mean here and presumably there as well, it was assumed that if children were sent home, if people were sent home from their jobs or not allowed to travel, there would just be this sort of surplus capacity that would soak up all of that extra work, and that's mostly fallen to women as far as I can see.

Jenny: Yeah, and the other problem is that often the surplus capacity is in the form of grandparents, and because we don't want to expose grandparents to the virus we can't have them do the work, so that's further exacerbated the problem, and you know, that little extra capacity that the family might have had is not available.

Daniel: The time when people would have normally had some leisure or time for themselves, or time to study, or you know, do something to help themselves is pretty much gone.

Jenny: Yeah, and clear your mind, and right now because things are so stressful, and in addition to the taking care of sick people, not just from Covid but...

I mean, I've seen reports from people who are trying to, in a tiny New York apartment with one bathroom, take care of somebody who has Covid, trying to not get it themselves, trying to not have it transmitted to their kid, and then of course you're in quarantine, so you can't go out. So that care, you know, falls obviously to the person who's not sick, but in many cases it falls to the woman, and then, you know this time, you study where where women are still doing a significant portion of the of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare despite the guys being home, and that's a fight that continues, and we have to continue to call out guys when they don't do their fair share.

Daniel: So you, I mean in your book, you talk about some of the other countries around the world, in Europe for example, to make some comparison about the US. I know it's really difficult at the moment to predict where things are going, but do you have any feelings or thoughts about how we might see the birth strike after this period, and how things might play out? Will governments like your own be forced to give more support to families?

Jenny: Well, I certainly hope so, I mean, during this campaign season when Bernie Sanders was running for the Democratic nomination, he and also Elizabeth Warren who was much further behind in terms of getting votes, they were bringing up, but particularly Bernie Sanders was bringing up, a lot of the things that we need in terms of child care, health care, paid leave, you know, even funding for the schools which have obviously been undercut as well. Actually having decent teacher salaries, you know, so the teachers are not constantly leaving for better jobs, all of the kinds of things that would make working class life a little bit more tolerable and make it more feasible to have kids, and raise kids if you have them.

All of that is now in the national discourse, which very much wasn't being discussed. Even feminist groups were not really demanding a national child care system. So I think that because we've been having those discussions, I think it's much more on people's minds that we could possibly have and win some of these things. Now of course, we need much more political power in order to do that, but I do think that broaching these questions is the first step, and I've noticed that, as I'm sure you have too, that when conservative or right-wing governments have been confronted with Covid they have suddenly opened the purse strings, what we never would have expected them to do, right?

So we have some possibilities, and it's also shown a sort of a weakness in the anti-abortion movement, you know. The anti-abortion movement in the US has spent a lot of effort trying to tamp down any possibility of having abortion pills available, including the government requires that you get an ultrasound in order to get an abortion. In many cases it requires that you, rather than just going to a pharmacy and getting the pill, you are required to have a doctor appointment, and a medical doctor has to give you the pill, and you know that's in combination with having to pay for all those things, so what we're seeing now is the Attorney Generals of 21 states demanding that the restrictions on the abortion pill be lifted for this period, which is something that we have been demanding for years, and allow people to call their doctor and get a prescription called in to a pharmacy, and then go pick it up, and that is how you get the abortion, similar to what has happened in the UK.

We've seen a lot of motion on that now, we haven't won that yet, but... We are seeing some states use the pandemic as an excuse to restrict, basically to say that abortions are not an essential medical service, closing clinics and requiring them to not provide abortion. We're seeing the right-wing version of it, but we're also seeing progress on opening it up. So it's been an interesting moment to observe what a government will do in extremis.

Daniel: If people want to pick up a copy of your book, where's the best place to buy a copy?

Jenny: Oh yes, PM Press, so you can get it at pmpress.org or your favourite local bookstore.

Daniel: Jenny Brown, thank you very much for talking to me today!

Jenny: Thank you very much Daniel!

Tags: pregnancy, childcare, demographics, birthrate

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