Commentary

If we really love moms and babies, here’s what we’ll do | Opinion

May 9, 2022 6:00 am

Without a focus on higher women's wages, the author writes, the claims of love for babies and women will sound hollow. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Since a Supreme Court draft overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico, I’ve heard Republican politicians claim that they “love women and babies” and will support women who, post-Roe, cannot get abortions.

This claim puzzles me. Outlawing abortions seems not supportive at all but in fact the cruelest way to lower abortion numbers in the U.S., not to mention a poor way to support women and their families.  

We know that outlawing abortions will not stop them. Abortions will continue, and mothers will die. This does not strike me as “love.”  

At the same time, it might be fair to assume that all Americans would be happy and relieved if the number of abortions performed in this country really did drop to as close to zero as possible.  

So how do we achieve this goal in a way that is as supportive as Republican leaders claim to be?

Here’s where loving mothers and babies gets real.

First, offer free and easily accessible contraception to every woman in the country, urban and rural, no matter how remote her location. Offer lots of options, all free, all safe.

Second, raise wages. Fifty percent of women who get abortions are below the poverty level and another 20% are below twice the poverty level. In addition, 60% are already mothers. These women have made clear that they cannot provide for the children they already have. So raise wages. Employers like Amazon should be paying wages equivalent to those earned by their employees’ parents and grandparents in the unionized automotive industry. According to former labor secretary Robert Reich, that would put wages at $35 an hour.

Third, provide universal, good quality child care everywhere — in cities, suburbs and small towns. Offer child care workers wages and education that elevate their professional status. Make caring for young children a desirable career path.

Fourth, provide top-notch education to girls from pre-K through college. Along with an education that prepares women for solid careers in the modern world, teach them their value and authority as women. Teach them how to recognize sexism and misogyny and how to stop those scourges in their tracks.

There’s more, of course: Bring back the expanded child tax credit; expand the internet to all rural areas to give parents more work-from-home opportunities; limit the warming of the planet so that we maintain the resources — land, clean air, potable water — needed to nurture future generations. Do all this, and abortion numbers will accelerate their already downward slide (half the number of 30 years ago).

And for those who protest this would all cost a fortune, do the math. America can easily work this way when wealthy people and corporations pay their fair share.

So: Republican lawmakers want to eliminate abortions via punitive legislation but say they will love and support mothers who cannot get safe abortions and the many children who will be born into poverty. Will they? Do their policies invest in women and children in the meaningful ways that would actually constitute love and support and would truly limit abortions in the United States? Let’s decide at the polls.

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Julie M. Bach
Julie M. Bach

Julie M. Bach taught writing at Hamline University, the University of St. Thomas and Minneapolis College. She grew up in southwest Michigan and has lived in St. Paul for 36 years.

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