I was eight years old when on Jan. 22, 1973 , the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal throughout the country.
Growing up in a post-Roe v. Wade world, I listened to friends who had chosen an abortion rather than risk losing their chance to get a college education and the better jobs that came with an education.
I witnessed the miraculous and precious births of two of my goddaughters.
I stood by a cousin who at 15 became a mother.
I heard the stories of women who endured childhood emotional and sexual abuse, which later resulted in young adult promiscuity, unwanted pregnancies, and abortions.
And like most Americans and many Catholics, I feel uneasy about the complexities of abortion.
Pro-choice women talk about reproductive rights while pro-life women talk about innocent human lives lost. For me what gets lost in the debates too often is the conditions women face that make them want to choose an abortion.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research branch) reports that women have abortions for two main reasons?lack of financial resources and lack of emotional support.
My hope for the next thirty years is that women and men across the country demand that a few of the billions we’re spending on weapons of mass destruction are instead used to pay mothers for the work they do.
In these United States no longer is a mother’s job considered an unpaid hobby. Mothering isn’t something you get to after you’ve finished a long day at your paying job.
There are European countries where women are paid for much longer maternity leave. These communities recognize that giving a new mother adequate time and money to care for her baby benefits everyone.
Just as crucial as money is good, thoughtful and organized emotional support. These days women need help creating the “villages” that will help them raise happy and healthy children and help them stay happy and healthy too.
I knew a woman who put together a team of some 18 friends willing to take turns to be there for her, her husband, and their baby. Imagine having commitments from other adults to think about a family on an ongoing basis: people to pitch in with babysitting, run errands, listen to a mom’s frustrations or fears, run a mop over a kitchen floor, and take mom or dad out to the movies or to a gym.
Those are two ideas?adequate maternity leave up to one and two years, and support teams for mothers.
A new pro-life campaign?Women Deserve Better?offers hope that the pro-life movement is focusing more of its resources on addressing the concerns of women who feel abortion is their best option.
Do women deserve better? Yes. Do mothers deserve better? Yes. During this next thirty years let’s figure out what better looks like.
FROM THE EDITOR:
The teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue is that human life merits protection from conception to natural death; therefore, the Church is opposed to abortion. For more information, see A Matter of the Heart, Bishop Wilton Gregory’s statement on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.