It appears that Lynn Fitch, the Attorney General of Mississippi, is an adherent to one of the more baffling strains of anti-abortion logic to emerge since the pro-life movement pivoted to feminism: the idea that procreating as much as possible, and not having the option to abort, is all part of the great march towards true gender parity.
Recently, Fitch, a public servant working in a state with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, sat for an interview on the Catholic television show EWTN Pro-Life Weekly to explain how ending most legal abortions would “empower” women to live, I suppose, their most natural and actualized lives. As the Mississippi Free Press reported today, the attorney general framed the end of Roe v. Wade as an opportunity for women to bravely enjoy both a child and a career: “Think about this,” she said late last week. “The lives that will be touched, the babies that will be saved, the mothers that will get the chance to really redirect their lives.”
“And,” she continued, “they have all these opportunities that they didn’t have 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, professional women, they really wanted you to make a choice. Now you don’t have to. Now you have the opportunity to be whatever you want to be.” Reading between the lines somewhat, one could safely assume that in Fitch’s estimation, a woman’s sole aspiration would be to serve as a mother and worker. After all, what else could there possibly be to life?
As the Free Press noted—and I very much encourage you to read the story in full—Fitch made a series of similar arguments in a court brief earlier this year connected to her state’s attempted 15-week abortion ban, essentially arguing that since feminism has finally won the great gender war, it’s time for people to get back to having kids. “Roe suggested that, without abortion, unwanted children could ‘force upon’ women ‘a distressful life and future,” she wrote. “But numerous laws enacted since Roe—addressing pregnancy discrimination, requiring leave time, assisting with childcare, and more—facilitate the ability of women to pursue both career and success and a rich family life.”
Obviously, this is the kind of duplicitous opinion the right-wing traffics in when it addresses the issue of state support for parents, and it’s absolute hogwash: The United States in one of the few counties in the world without a national paid leave policy. And while estimates for childcare costs vary wildly, one recent study found families could expect to spend more than $8,000 a year. Giving birth is expensive. Health care is expensive. Which isn’t to mention that Mississippi specifically declined to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage just this March.
But the implication of Fitch’s position is part of a broader movement to render gender essentialism and traditional motherhood as the natural order of the world—and the current system one in which women, burdened by the choice to be anything but a mother, can never experience true joy. As the anti-abortion movement flies through its lobbying efforts and court battles, it’s been increasingly focused on how to reframe abortion as an anti-feminist practice—an argument that can only really be made by adopting the idea that a woman is only truly a woman, and only fully herself, if she is bearing and raising kids. As one prominent activist said a few years ago, “We must bust open the pro-choice narrative that the pro-life movement is white men telling women what to do.” Which is how you get a state attorney general suggesting that the paragon of feminism would be for women to endlessly breed and also, as empowered and career-driven people, be able to work until they die.
And anyway, according to Fitch, this is all basically in the Bible. “It’s truly exciting,” she told EWTN of her state’s attempts to introduce a 15-week abortion ban and make it functionally impossible for a woman who found herself pregnant to make any other choice. “It is a case chosen by God.”