As we contemplate the end of Roe v. Wade in the same month we celebrated Mother’s Day, we would do well to remember that the well-being of babies and children is directly tied to the well-being of their mothers.
As of 2014, according to a Guttenmacher Institute patient survey, a majority of women seeking abortions had at least one child, and three-quarters were low income. Before these women can be asked — or forced — to have another child, we need to ensure that resources are available to enable them to safely deliver and care for that child. This includes universal access to prenatal care as well as to a full year of postpartum care. Yet, despite the high US maternal mortality rate after 60 days from delivery, only 26 states have expanded Medicaid eligibility beyond two months postpartum, according to a Washington Post story that included Kaiser Family Foundation statistics.
Once their child is born, low-income mothers — nearly half of whom are single parents — need access to food stamps, without having to jump through hoops to show that they are working a sufficient number of hours. We also need to provide these mothers with affordable, quality child care if we are going to require them to work. And we need to guarantee their children access to pre-K programs to prepare them for success in school.
Yes, doing these things costs money. But if we value motherhood, we must also value mothers. And if we value life, we must ensure that every child gets the best possible start in life. That shouldn’t start — and certainly can’t end — with overturning Roe v. Wade.