In my latest reading of Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood (copyright 1984), Kristin Luker explores the role of motherhood in women’s stances on abortion. (And, by the way, Luker presents a statistic that women comprise the majority of the pro-life and the pro-choice movements.) Her argument, based on interviews, is that pro-life women activists largely focus their energies on the domestic sphere. Pro-choice women activists, by contrast, tend to be higher-income and more committed to professions outside of the home. Again, this is not an absolute, but Luker is speaking about trends that she observed.
What’s this mean, in terms of abortion? If a pro-life woman homemaker has an unexpected pregnancy, she already has a structure in place to care for that child, since she is already caring for children. A professional woman with an unexpected pregnancy, by contrast, would see the unexpected pregnancy as an interference to her career and her aspirations, and she would probably doubt her ability to raise another child. That’s what I got out of Luker’s discussion.
Another interesting point that Luker made was that many pro-life women prefer the domestic sphere to the paying workforce because their options are limited in terms of jobs. Whereas many pro-choice women have the education to pursue more fulfilling vocations, pro-life women are limited to lower-paying jobs, such as those in the service sector. Consequently, pro-life women think that the domestic sphere is better than the paying workforce.
Would Luker’s analysis be accurate about thirty years later, in 2012? I’m not entirely sure. I do know women who are homemakers, but there are also a lot of women who work because they want to or they have to, and this includes pro-life women. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a number of pro-life women who have received college and graduate educations. I’ve met or heard of a number of them! But there may be something to Luker’s view that pro-life women tend to be women who root their identities in being wives and mothers, rather than a professional career.