In 2019 there were more than 600,000 abortions in the USA. That’s 600,000 children who never breathed for the first time, 600,000 mothers who felt their “choices” were down to one hard option, and countless fathers, grandparents, neighbors and classmates whose life was different because of the absence of this child.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization limits danger to children in the womb, but judges cannot bestow dignity, safety or hope by decree. This is the ongoing work demanded of the anti-abortion movement, work that offers opportunities for alliances with abortion rights advocates. We don’t need to agree on the moral weight of abortion to recognize that America has neither a culture of life nor a culture of choice. We live in, like Pope Francis did appointed that, a throwaway culture.
The majority abortions in the United States are sought by women who have already given birth to a baby. They don’t need an ultrasound to make the connection between pregnancy and parenthood. When mothers ask for abortion were questioned in depth, many said they wanted to be able to give birth to the child they were carrying, but they felt it would not be fair to the children they were already struggling to care for. These women pass the test of the abortion rights slogan “Every child has sought child.” But they could tell that their children were not wanted by the rest of us. Death was the only “choice” we as a nation expected.
Before physician-assisted suicide was legal, abortion was the only accepted and encouraged form of euthanasia. In both cases, death is offered as a false mercy; an option that only appears nice contrary to our willful negligence. Physician-assisted dying was initially legalized for a limited number of circumstances, but it has caught up with the “on demand and no excuse” rhetoric of abortion.
This year in Canada, a woman was denied help finding housing that could help her manage her chronic illness and was oriented towards medical assistance in dying instead. His government account increase the cost savings from expanding medical assistance in dying and offer patients death earlier in the progression of their disease. The sooner people choose to die, the more money they save.
In the case of physician-assisted suicide, putting one more choice on the table hasn’t expanded people’s options. It offered an excuse not to support any better option, once death was available as a safety net. It offered a way to blame people who were struggling to survive, since living was now their choiceand therefore their own fault.
Removing an option, even a bad one, won’t be a simple solution either. Parents deserve more support. They deserve to be cleared of bureaucratic obstacles to outsource the cost to run a program on the people it is supposed to serve. The expanded child tax credit survey 3 million children will be lifted out of poverty in 2021, but due to its flawed design, has not reach the poorest families. The best pregnancy resource centers act as benefits navigators, helping families receive the benefits they are entitled to, but not really accessible.
When a mother realizes she is pregnant, the first doctor she comes in contact with should be able to help her register for all the benefits to which she is entitled (which should be significantly expanded and simplified compared to the status quo). But care isn’t just about writing checks – every mother, whether in pregnancy crisis or not, should be introduced to easily accessible mothers’ groups in her community, possibly at the library, with parallel groups for the dads. Churches and other community centers should welcome every growing family with ties to teens and young adults who offer childcare hours as a community service. People need care connections, as well as financial flexibility.
Many people working to end abortion have Free vocal, supported advocacy for these material supports, but conservative politicians have often been happy to hold voters hostage to judicial appointments without listening to lifelong demands for justice. Democrats have been more inclined to put economic justice at the heart of their platform, but as policymakers, they drop the detailseven for people they count as people.
Material supports are necessary but not sufficient. Creating a culture of life means accepting difficult cases. I have seen some of the most profound tributes to the dignity of human life in the care offered to parents facing a terminal diagnosis for their child in utero.
For instance, Now I lay down to sleep is a national network of photographers who offer their services free of charge to parents who are anticipating a stillbirth or who will not be having their child until shortly after birth. Refrigerated cradles give parents more time to sit next to their child. The New Melleray Abbey Trappists make handmade coffins, complete with pillows that fit in the palm of a parent’s hand, which they send free to parents who have a miscarriage.
An anti-abortion culture is one that doesn’t depend on “maybe you aborted Beethoven” appeals, but finds value in the shortest life, the most limited life. It’s not about potential, inside or outside the uterus. None of us earn our existence. None of us should have our dignity dependent on another’s choice. It is the common vulnerability of the child and the parents that deserves our support. We have failed more than 600,000 families each year since 1973. Abortion places the greatest cost of this failure on children. The Dobbs decision will make the needs of children and families impossible to hide. It is up to us to meet him without reserve and with much love.
Leah Libresco Sargeant is the author of “Arriving at Amen” and “Building the Benedict Option”. She leads the substack Other feminismsfocused on the dignity of interdependence.