Fifty years ago, conservatives had answers to those questions, which rested primarily on two central pillars: traditional sexual morals and traditional gender roles. Sex should be reserved for marriage, and women should orient their adult lives around childbearing and its attendant obligations. In a different time and culture, these traditional mores were reasonably effective at ensuring that children were conceived with a pre-designated breadwinner, caretaker, and natal family. Even today, some families and communities embrace this approach, but it’s obviously countercultural in the 21st century. Mid-20th-century gender roles have proven unsustainable as a norm in a society that attaches such rich rewards (money, social respect, opportunity) to professional achievement. It just doesn’t seem fair to ask women to forego so many opportunities, simply because they have wombs.

Pro-lifers won’t make much headway legislatively if they get backed into arguing that women are obliged to choose between full-time domesticity and lifelong celibacy. Realistically though, all of the alternatives will be hotly controversial on the right. Artificial contraceptives could be recommended as an increasingly promising method of minimizing unplanned pregnancies, but that will displease the many religious conservatives (such as myself) who have ethical objections to contraceptives, and who worry about the likely ramifications for marriage and birth rates if long-acting contraceptives are more widely distributed. Another possible solution would be a more generous family policy (also reminiscent of Europe), which could help offset the financial burdens of parenthood while providing more social support for mothers. This too will be fiercely controversial among conservatives, who dislike entitlements and especially hate subsidizing female careerism.