Today in the state of Illinois, going against his promise to his constituents and the legislators of Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law mandated taxpayer funding of abortion for those on Medicaid. It is estimated that this will effectively increase the number of abortions in Illinois by the thousands – and the financial burden (and arguably moral burden, for many) of these will weigh on Illinois residents. This in a state that already has a much higher abortion rate than the states around us, and an infamous problem with our finances to boot.
As I thought about this, riding the El home from work today, I couldn’t help but feel that, politically, the pro-life movement seems to be losing, rather than gaining ground. In some ways. But abortion is still legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. So yes, it feels like not much has changed.
Then I began to wonder, what would happen if we, as a movement, acted like abortion laws were here to stay?
To be clear, I am not suggesting we should stop lobbying for the legal protection of unborn children. But if ultimately the goal of the pro-life movement is to provide protection for the unborn, I wonder if the very tunnel-vision focus on changing abortion law is helping or hurting that goal. I guess this is what I am asking: if we could not change abortion law in our country, what would we do differently to change abortion numbers and save lives? Especially in the political sphere?
Would we lobby to provide better healthcare for women, especially low income women, so they felt more able to choose life when they become pregnant?
Would we advocate for better parental leave policies for both mothers and fathers so that women aren’t forced to choose between a career and a child?
Similarly, would we work to eliminate workplace discrimination against mothers, of whom it is often assumed they will be less committed to their jobs upon having children?
Could we even, as a Church, try to eliminate the stigma and shame that surrounds single motherhood in our own communities, allowing for grace and providing support to new mothers who are in an unexpected pregnancy?
On a day where it feels like we’re losing ground in the fight for the life of America’s most vulnerable, I am not giving up. I’m looking for new avenues to empower women to choose life, even if they have the choice not to. Will you join me?