I have long rejected the narrative that battles over reproductive freedom are social issues that are discussions of morality. For me, that is precisely what the right wants you to think.
The reality is this – access to legal and safe abortion and family planning options has always been a core economic issue and another example of why despite rhetoric that overtly appeals to working class voters, more often than not, voting Republican is bad for the working class.
But let’s focus today on another aspect of the reproductive rights battle – how it will impact the reputation of a state and the ability to attract young professionals and a class of innovative entrepreneurs.
Florida Republicans love to talk about jobs, don’t they? They love to claim they’re growing the economy, while the good professional jobs that relocate from up north or overseas, often go to neighboring or nearby states also run by Republicans? Why? Because of a variety of factors but included amongst them is that Florida Republicans tend to be double-protectionists (that is protecting in-state corporate campaign contributors from competition while opposing free trade) and the continued decline of Florida’s reputation as a place where young professionals and well-educated corporate types would want to actually live.
I would previously make excuses for the state, saying our reputation was the result of a well-orchestrated media campaign among northern newspapers and elites at CNN, etc. But years later I have come to realize, that Florida’s reputation, has unfortunately, been well-earned. Florida in so many ways has become an embarrassment, a place where anything goes, from the small-time schemers, to big-time crooks, this is a state which has for the better part of the last two decades seen its reputation justifiably plummet.
So let’s take the latest embarrassment for the state – an assault on reproductive rights that would make abortion virtually inaccessible in Florida. HB 5, which is currently being effectively fast-tracked through the legislative process would devastate not only curtail reproductive freedom in this state but create a reputation of a state hostile to young families and young women.
Florida already has a reputation problem as the outflow of young professional talent has intensified in the last decade, while so many ambitious professional people don’t want to move to a state whose educational system is constantly under attack from politicians, and where urban life often doesn’t have the cultural options it does in major cities in other states.
In fact, recently, a joke has been going around young techies that the problem with the push (which by the way, is now falling flat after a promising start) to relocate tech jobs from Silicon Valley and New York to Florida, is well you have to live in Florida!
Restricting access to reproductive rights – that is restricting freedom in a most fundamental way will further turn off the very types of people Florida need. The young go-getters, the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the thinkers, etc.
But it seems time and again, Florida’s elected leaders don’t really care about good jobs or the reputation of the state. They care about increasing personal power, doing outrageous things that get national attention (really scorn) and creating a moral code reminiscent of the 19th Century. In that effort, they are successful.