This Conservative Meme Got It All Wrong on Reproductive Rights and Responsibilities

Posted on January 25, 2016


Fact-based critical thinking is seriously wounded in this country.

So… one of my rather conservative friends… a very religious and avidly pro-life individual… shared the below meme, from a Facebook page called “Right Wing News.” A quick scroll through the posts on that page pretty much confirm that it is rabidly uber-conservative, sometimes nonsensically so. My friend added a comment disparaging the “liberal logic” that the meme seems to lament. All I could think was: what a failure of critical thinking.


The message seems to be: “Yeah! All them poor people out there telling us to butt out, they squirt out a passel of brats, and then WE have to pay for their kids?!”

The meme is either ignorant, or brilliant in its psychology (ignoring the grammatical defect). It plays off two related political issues – reproductive rights, and social safety nets for children – but by mere association in the same sentence, it links those two issues into an erroneous sort of cause-and-effect, promoting the idea that the responsible pay for the misbegotten brats of the irresponsible, sex-crazed breeders out there, because they had no say or control over the behavior of these irresponsible others. And the implication is that maybe they should have some say in reproductive matters… if only they could just legislate other people’s morality, then we wouldn’t be paying for all these little ragamuffins.

But that’s not the real world, is it? The conservative agenda is pro-life. The conservative agenda actually makes it harder for women to obtain contraception or abortions. If conservatives had their way, there would be more unintended pregnancies, and all pregnancies – even those which result in severely disabled and expensively dependent offspring – would be carried to term, and to hell with what the expectant parents might have wanted.

And then? Why, the parents are responsible, of course.  Because the conservative agenda is not exactly pro-assistance.

That is the fallacy of the idea behind the meme: the reality is, conservatives don’t want to pay for anyone else’s kids, regardless of whether they get to legislate reproductive matters. Personal responsibility, folks! Hey, if you’re gonna have sex, you’re the ones responsible for whatever happens! Keep an aspirin between your knees, ha! ha!

I actually agree with them on personal responsibility, but I rabidly disagree with their attempts to legislate morality: when we enact laws that interfere with people’s choices and people’s ability to control their own reproductive destiny, then how can we hold them responsible? The counter-meme on this topic might be:


In an ideal world, people’s reproductive systems should be 100% their own business and 100% their own financial responsibility. The real world is a bit more complicated and messy than that.