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OPINION | LOWELL GRISHAM: If Roe is overturned, the best response will be improved pro-child policies

Pro-child policies can bridge gap of abortion debate by Lowell Grisham | May 24, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Let's assume the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. If the Court legalizes abortion limits or bans, it may open a door for people on both sides of that debate to join together in support of other compelling pro-life policies.

If abortion becomes less available, there will be more children born, many of them born into poverty. Right now the U.S. does a pretty good job combating elderly poverty thanks to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. But we don't do a good job taking care of children.

In a 40 country survey of child poverty, the U.S. ranked 38th, behind our European neighbors but also behind countries like Slovenia, Russia and Mexico, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). The biggest difference is that other countries help children more than we do. The poverty rate of U.S. mothers' is similar to mothers in Canada, France and England, but those countries help mothers keep their children out of poverty.

Many nations have universal health care for mothers and children. Many nations have programs to support child care for needy families and access to early childhood education.

Investments in childhood resources show profound returns on investment: fewer infant deaths, better health, less interaction with the criminal justice system, higher graduation rates, more work and higher incomes. Childhood hunger in particular is linked to future behavioral issues and mental heath problems.

The single-most important policy for preventing child poverty and all of its long-term problems is direct child allowances, money sent to parents. Just like Social Security works for the elderly, direct child allowances work for the very young.

We've seen the effect in the recent monthly checks sent to families during the covid outbreak. When checks went out last July, the child poverty rate immediately dropped by 4% -- 3 million children out of poverty. When the checks stopped in January, the child poverty rate jumped by 5% -- 3.7 million more kids in poverty. Poverty is a significant motivation for abortion.

There are some encouraging national conversations among pro-life Christians who are discussing ways of being holistically pro-life. They propose addressing some of the reasons desperate mothers turn to abortion.

Pro-life Christians are talking about the need for affordable housing, child care, transportation and affordable health care for families who find themselves overwhelmed with the prospect of bringing a child to full term. Abused women who fear bringing a child into an unsafe household need safe sanctuary for themselves and their children. Education and job training opportunities for women would mean fewer mothers would fear raising a child in poverty. It is likely that less access to abortion will mean more children in the foster care system, which needs to be much more robust and kinder.

Childbirth and infant child care are physically, emotionally and economically demanding. Paid universal leave allows a mother to rest and to heal. It gives a mother a chance to nurture crucial mother-child bonding in those important first weeks of life.

All of these causes are consistent with Christian moral values. Over and over the Scripture tells us we have a higher responsibility to care for "widows and orphans," a phrase that can be faithfully translated "vulnerable women and vulnerable children."

One of the best ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies is to provide affordable, accessible contraception. There are excellent programs for age-appropriate school-based sex education. The truth is, not every parent is equipped and willing to have these conversations. Knowledge is power, and children are vulnerable if they move into puberty without knowledge about their own bodies.

I am encouraged by the interest pro-life Christians are showing for compassionate policies for mothers and children who would be most impacted by Roe's overturn. Most of these proposed programs already have support from liberals and pro-choice people.

What if we could break down some of the nation's polarization by having the two sides of the abortion debate join together in support of pro-family policies combating childhood poverty and other problems that make mothers and children vulnerable. Maybe we could build bridges across some traditional lines of division.

Print Headline: Why not partnership?


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