In March, Toys R Us, the paradise of our childhoods/money pit for our parents, announced it would be closing or selling all 800 of its US stores and closing all 100 of its UK stores. The store cited several reasons for its demise, including insurmountable debt, competition from online retailers, and rising costs of labor; many critics added that Geoffrey the Giraffe and co. simply didn't keep up with the times and didn't work on making the customer experience better (who wants to search a giant warehouse for a specific toy or get into a gunfight while reaching for the last Tickle Me Elmo during the holiday season?).
The company also blamed the declining birth rate in the US and abroad, saying, "A continued and significant decline in the number of newborns and children in these countries could have a material adverse effect on our operating results." This somewhat dubious excuse for the company's failure was enough to make Mandy Alman write a not-at-all satirical opinion letter to the editors of the News-Gazette, a local Illinois paper, titled, "Abortions taking a toll on businesses."
I just want to say: Mandy, can you fucking not?
Mandy uses some interesting logic in her piece to justify her claims that "abortion and the declining birth rate are intricately connected."
"Women in their 20s accounted for nearly 60 percent of all abortions performed in the US in 2014, according to a CDC report," she writes. "These are children who otherwise would have been born and whose families could have contributed to the customer base of companies such as Toys R Us."
While it's true the birth rate in the US among younger women (especially teens) has declined, it is not because of abortion — rates of which have been on a steady decline for the past several decades, thanks in part to more access to birth control. She also fails to mention that birth rates for older women have actually increased.
Although a quick Google search (or maybe Ask Jeeves, since Mandy seems inclined to cling to relics of the past), could have shown Mandy her thesis may not be quite correct, she doubled down: "Since abortion has been legal for 45 years, this has become a multigenerational problem. The children who would have otherwise been born in the 1970s and 1980s would be having children now who could also potentially be shopping at Toys R Us (in addition to enjoying a right to life)."
Experts agree that birth rates are declining due to women becoming more educated and entering the workforce, thus delaying starting a family. Some are deciding they don't want to have children at all, which is totally fine. As a young woman of child-bearing years, I have chosen to focus on my education, career, and becoming financially stable before having a child, much like many of my peers. But according to Mandy, this pretty reasonable life choice may spell doom for the US economy.
"Which other companies will fail because their future customers are being aborted?" she writes somewhat forebodingly. Mandy (and countless others with this line of thinking) seem more concerned with the bottomline of companies than with women — especially mums — reaching economic parity with men. Buying the latest toy that your child will stop playing with in 4 days in favour of the next trendy thing matters more than the benefits educated and financially stable parents have on children.
I, too, have nostalgia for the 90s, dragging my mum and aunt through Toys R Us and picking out a new holiday Barbie every year from the shelves. But, nostalgia tends to make us overlook the reality of the past and in this case, it's that bad business decisions and changing demographics and trends led to the end of Toys R Us — not a woman's right to choose.
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