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Neoliberal Perfectionism

ALTHOUGH MERVE EMRE does not use the term “neoliberal” in her essay, she vividly brings to life the effects of neoliberalism on our reproductive choices. When I speak of neoliberalism, I mean the “small-government” ideology of deregulation, laissez-faire economics, low taxation, elimination of social programs, socioeconomic inequality, the privatization of public resources, and a lack of collective social organization directed by government. Among the worst way that neoliberalism can affect our reproductive choices is by ingratiating its political and economic imperatives into the reproductive options that are available to us, in the process subverting our most considered values.

One of the most obvious ways that neoliberal politics can influence reproductive choices is by denying parents paid leave when they have children, and job security when they return to work. In the United States, unlike in other affluent nations, paid parental leave is privatized— a benefit available only to those who work for employers willing to provide it. Without parental leave and job protection, workers might be motivated to put off having children until they are established in their career, or until they have saved enough money to take time off to raise a child through the first months or years of life.

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