As the pro-life movement enters a post-Roe era after Dobbs, the anti-abortion movement is revaluating, looking ahead, and strategizing about ways to reduce abortion through a variety of policies—not only on the supply side, but on the demand side as well. Marvin Olasky, a veteran pro-life scholar, recently wrote about ways pro-lifers can reduce the demand for abortion. Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life and Kristen Day of the beleaguered Democrats for Life co-authored an essay calling on legislators to “make birth free.” And last week, a joint statement titled “Building a Post-Roe Future” was released with hundreds of signatories—including Foster and Day.
The statement, which I worked on with pro-life activist Eric Scheidler, ethicist Charlie Camosy, and apologist Josh Brahm, notes that while protecting the human rights of the unborn is essential, there is much more that we can do. “We are pro-life conservatives, moderates, and liberals united in our conviction that every human life has value—including the lives of both the unborn and that child’s mother,” the statement reads. “We believe that our society should prioritize the needs of both, and that ultimately this can only be achieved by significant changes in public policy.”
Of course, the pro-life movement has always recognized the importance of supporting women facing unplanned pregnancies, donating untold millions of dollars to thousands of crisis pregnancy centers and other organizations to assist mothers and children. But in a post-Roe landscape, the non-profit network will simply not be enough. Some states have already acknowledged this. When Texas passed new abortion restrictions, it also committed $100 million to the Alternatives to Abortion program, which offers everything from diapers to job training.
More can be done on both the state and federal level. We know that a wide range of circumstances drive women to seek abortion, and that there are concrete steps we can take to reduce the demand. “Building a Post-Roe Future” proposes we need the following:
- Accessible and affordable healthcare for parents and children—including expanding Medicaid funding for prenatal care, delivery, and postpartum expenses—to reduce the financial barriers to welcoming a new child
- Expanded child tax credits that promote family formation and lift children out of poverty
- Paid parental leave that ensures every infant can receive the close attention and nurturing care they need from their mothers and fathers in the early months of life
- Flexible work hours to enable families to establish a tranquil home life, with predictable work schedules and better options for meaningful part-time employment
- Affordable childcare options that support working parents, without disincentivizing the choice to raise young children at home that many families say they would prefer
- Full enforcement of existing prenatal child support laws and effective new ways to demand that all men take responsibility for children they father
In the statement, we are careful to note that not every government has the fiscal capacity to enact each of these measures, and that these policies must be carefully crafted to empower families without disincentivizing work or promoting an unhealthy dependence on government. Nevertheless, in a society where women often need to return to work shortly after birth, where it is far cheaper to procure an abortion than to give birth in a hospital, and where many of the current policies penalize childbirth and childbearing and incentivize abortion, we believe that creative policy-making can bring about relief for many mothers and families.
This statement—covered by the New York Times in their 2023 March for Life coverage—is significant due to the ideological diversity of the signatories and the various factions of the movement. Activists Lila Rose of Live Action and Kristian Hawkins of Students for Life of America signed; so did Russell Moore of Christianity Today and Ben Domenech of The Spectator. Pro-life statistician Michael New of the Catholic University of America, Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None, and Chris Slattery of EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers in New York City all signed, along with hundreds of others. All are united in the recognition that a post-Roe world brings new challenges, and new opportunities. We hope that legislators will listen.
Jonathon Van Maren is the author of Patriots: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Pro-Life Movement.
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Image by Helena Lopes licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.