Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Better Way: Policies That Might Actually End Abortion In America

Just as we blame an abusive partner for pressuring women into abortion, I wonder if our country's family-related policies (or lack thereof) inadvertently pressure women into abortion. 

I wonder if, in some way, we will be held complicit, if not for participation in the killing of a child in utero, then for ignoring the poor or fearful as they feel cornered by this choice.

If you're serious about ending abortion in America, please consider these policy adjustments to our country's approach to family:

1. Pregnancy and childbirth will be re-categorized as reproductive wellness care. As with all wellness care, it will be covered for free. No longer will it be less expensive to birth a royal baby in a luxurious, private hospital wing in Britain than to have a normal birth in the United StatesNo longer will it be cheaper to get an abortion than to have a baby. 

2. Medicaid and CHIP will be expanded to cover all children, regardless of income, because no parent should have to care for a sick child while unable to afford a doctor’s visit or prescription. 

3. Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption leave will be paid. Any worker is eligible, regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time, or contract.

4. Minimum wage will be established at a livable wage and linked to the inflation index to secure future increases, so parents can support their families.

5. In an economy that often requires multiple incomes just to cover basic living expenses, childcare will be subsidized. 

6. All adoption expenses will also be eligible for refundable tax credits. No family should lose money for opening their hearts to children who need a home. 

7. Children with disabilities will receive the best healthcare, the most advanced therapy, and specialized quality childcare, so their parents know they are embraced by our country, and their children have a promising future.

Some of the most brilliant, most creative, most loving, most influential, strongest individuals are on the spectrum of physical and mental disabilities. We will set the international standard for special education and services for those who are differently-abled, and these programs will be available to every person regardless of ability to pay.
Some in our nation will say these policies are too much. Even some who profess to be pro-life have already said to me, ‘These expenses are untenable. We cannot afford as a nation to support children in this way!’ 

Then now, perhaps, as you contemplate these overwhelming expenses for the national budget, you can understand how the cost of parenting might be overwhelming for many in our country.

If we want parents to choose life, let's talk about how to lighten their load, so they can.  

Volunteers with pregnancy resource centers ("crisis pregnancy centers") have known for years that the best way to help a mom choose to keep her baby is to address the needs that make her abortion-vulnerable.

When a pregnant women enters a pregnancy resource center, she's not judged for being in her situation. She's not lectured about how abortion is murder. She's asked, "What do you need?"

Then volunteers mobilize their community to provide transportation, job opportunities, childcare, housing, baby clothes and equipment, good prenatal care, and the feeling that this child is welcomed in our world.

YES. This is an invaluable, compassionate, effective approach to ending abortion!

Realistically, the "crisis pregnancy center" model is too small to reach every woman, even with private donations into the millions. These volunteer resources aren't universally available on large scale across the country, particularly in large cities where demand is high or rural areas where resources are scarce (ie - a pro-life local obgyn to offer discounted care, a retired grandma to babysit kids for free, extensive affordable special needs therapy, etc.).

By supporting family-friendly policies, such as Medicaid for pregnant women, CHIP for low-income children, WIC nutrition for preschoolers, ECI for early in-home therapy, paid maternity leave, a livable wage, accessible and affordable healthcare for all, and a special education program that sets the international standard for supporting those who are differently-abled, by supporting these initiatives, we are taking the pregnancy resource center approach to the national level, empowering parents to choose life for their unborn children.


  1. This is a well written, well thought out article. It's a huge topic for discussion.

    First, it has the potential to produce yet another paternalistic government program to keep the masses dependent on government, which strips more of our own personal decisions.

    Second, there needs to be a large component dedicated to taking personal responsibility for ones actions, which leads to teaching people to blame everyone else for their own unwise decisions, and also to learn and practice delay of personal pleasure and gratification (sex).

    Just two subjects, but I know several others (like, gasp! morals). Maybe it's not the governments job to provide the support system for those who don't feel they can or want to raise a child. Churches, families, neighbors and communities used to do a far better job, with less buerocracy, red tape and political correctness involved.

    Charlene's writing is well done. Makes us stop and think about much needed solutions.

    1. Yes, I agree, whether it's the government's role to assist in poverty is a question worthy of discussion.
      For issues of prenatal care, children's healthcare, and maternity leave (which I think could validly be categorized under healthcare), I believe the government could expand Medicare and Medicaid to create a single payer system similar to the public education program. Covering citizens' healthcare might be considered part of "promoting the general welfare." There could continue to be private opt-out options, but a public option would be available.
      I don't know that I'd classify government assistance programs as "paternalistic," in the sense that public libraries, public parks, public roads, and public broadcasting (etc.) are not innately paternalistic, though they benefit the general populace.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Good dialogue can only help...

    2. Also, on "taking responsibility for one's actions" -- sex causing pregnancy is a very clear fact of life that shouldn't surprise anyone who's having sex and ends up pregnant. Still, I think there are some mitigating factors that might make it more difficult to expect parents to be able to fully shoulder the responsibility of pregnancy:
      1. With both artificial and natural birth control, the "failure" rate (if pregnancy = failure) is measurable, and surprise pregnancies definitely occur. Many seeking abortion cite the failure of birth control as their reason for ending the pregnancy. They thought they were being responsible by using birth control in the first place, but their "responsibility" has just become a living, growing child. As long as surprise pregnancies can occur, the act of "taking responsibility" for having sex changes drastically, and someone who was prepared to take responsibility for having sex isn't prepared to take responsibility for having a child. We can talk about the moral implications of sex without procreation, but from personal experience, it's incredibly overwhelming (if not shocking) to come up pregnant when you think your birth control method is avoiding pregnancy. For someone who doesn't believe in God, I imagine it could be devastating.
      2. Some people have sex, intend pregnancy, and then find out their child has special needs. While I don't believe this is any reason to terminate a pregnancy, they have just inherited a much larger responsibility for their actions than anticipated. Surely we, as a society, can help carry their load and give the best life possible to their child.
      3. Victims of rape -- didn't want the responsibility, didn't ask for the responsibility, now they have it. We need to do a better job of advocating for them, whether or not the rape results in pregnancy.
      4. Some parents have the best intentions of having sex, getting pregnant, and life continuing as normal with an additional child in their care. But then a parent loses a job, and the anticipated responsibility becomes unbearable. We have unemployment insurance in place to help shoulder this burden. That's awesome.
      5. Some moms have several healthy pregnancies and continue to work and earn an income through those pregnancies, and then end up with a high-risk pregnancy that puts them on bed rest (true story). As a result, the mom loses her job, the family loses her income, and they lose their employer-sponsored health insurance as well. The parents did what they could in the beginning to "take responsibility for their actions," but the external circumstances were just more than they could have anticipated.
      So, yes, there's a degree of personal responsibility to every pregnancy, but there's also a degree of uncertainty to this world that guarantees we cannot be self-sufficient in society. Whether private citizens or churches step up to help shoulder the load, or whether we codify this assistance into a bigger government effort (perhaps shared through non-profits such as Catholic Charities), the assistance is often still needed, even for those who take every precaution to not need it.