I want to say a few words about the new abortion law in Texas.
As we all know, I don’t enjoy writing about abortion because I don’t like it when pro-life people scream that I’m a baby killer who deserves to be be publicly humiliated and denied communion while pro-choice people call me a Nazi who deserves to get raped. I am a Catholic who believes that the unborn child has personhood and deserves to live, but I also realize that what masquerades as the pro-life movement is a pack of abusive charlatans and racists, so that’s the kind of reaction I usually get when I open my mouth. But from time to time, I need to say something, and today is one of those times.
About the Texas abortion law itself, I observe that it doesn’t read like a law that will reduce the number of abortions. It may reduce the number of abortions in Texas while increasing them in clinics at the border. It may cause women to bleed out or get an infection from an abortion at home and then have medical professionals afraid to help her if she goes to the emergency room. It reads like a law that will make it harder for women having a miscarriage to access care because doctors will be afraid someone will suspect they were actually aborting a live baby and sue them. It doesn’t do anything about the reasons why a woman would seek an abortion, it just makes it harder and scarier for her to get one, and I don’t see that as helpful.
There are two takes I’ve seen on the Texas abortion law that I just want to highlight for the moment. The first is from people who certainly think of themselves as pro-life. The second is from a person who thinks of himself as pro-choice. They are both terrible.
The first take, is the many people responding with optimistic takes about donating to crisis pregnancy centers, like this one:
“Crisis pregnancy centers regularly provide diapers, clothes, car seats etc. to women in crisis pregnancies. Women in Texas hoping to abort can’t anymore (thank God!), so we need to STEP UP and show them what a prolife society looks like. Donate to a TX CPC!”
I don’t know how to explain to people like this that women in crisis pregnancies need way more than a car seat and a box of diapers. The cost of an uncomplicated delivery of a baby in the hospital is somewhere around ten thousand dollars, and that goes up steeply if she needs any interventions. That’s not counting the cost of OB-gyn visits, ultrasounds, pre-natal vitamins, gestational diabetes testing, treatments for HG and all the other medical expenses a pregnant woman might need. Medicaid will cover some of these women, but plenty will fall through the cracks and that needs to be addressed. And it’s not even touching on the other expenses that women in crisis pregnancies face. Some of them need a divorce attorney and a place to hide from their wife-beating husband. Some need to be spirited away from the incestuous uncle who got them pregnant in the first place and the abusive mom and dad who will torture them for not being a virgin anymore. Some need to escape the pimps who are trafficking them. Some need housing. Some need mental health care. Some need childcare. Some need a new job. There are a myriad of serious expenses and difficulties that women considering abortion face, and they’re not going to be fixed with a secondhand layette from a crisis pregnancy center. Giving someone in a crisis pregnancy a gently used car seat is like a six-year-old giving Daddy a quarter when he loses his job. It’s kindly meant, but it doesn’t help.
I’m aware that some crisis pregnancy centers are actual medical clinics with doctors on staff, but those are few and far between. Most have badly trained volunteers who are not medical professionals or mental health professionals. They’re not regulated by any government agency, so the clients have no expectation of privacy as they would if they went to a doctor. Their hours are extremely limited. They test women for pregnancy using dollar store test strips, try to talk them out of abortion, and help them fill out paperwork for Medicaid. They give away baby supplies to the pregnant women with some provisos. At the local one, for example, a decade ago when I was pregnant with Rosie, they offered free baby supplies to any woman who took birthing and parenting classes in their “Bridges Program.” You couldn’t get the supplies without taking the classes. The classes were only held at one o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday, meaning that pregnant women trying to finish school couldn’t take them, pregnant woman who worked a nine to five couldn’t take them, and pregnant women who provided childcare during the day couldn’t take them. I don’t know who could. I’m not aware of a single person who attended the “Bridges Program” and got the free crib. And other crisis pregnancy centers are worse; one of my readers told me that her center had a closet full of supplies that were locked away and only given to women that the volunteers arbitrarily called “deserving.”
Crisis pregnancy centers are not the answer to abortion. And pointing them out doesn’t make me a baby killer, despite what is going to be said. We need to drastically change our society if we’re going to reduce abortions. Volunteers trying to make themselves feel better giving classes on Monday afternoon can’t fix this.
The next take that needs to be lambasted is from Richard Hanania. Mr. Hanania had a unique take on the Texas abortion bill: he’s afraid that it will cause the United States to fall behind other nations in eugenics. I wish I were making this up, but that’s what he says:
“You can’t screen for Down syndrome before about 10 weeks, and something like 80% of Down syndrome fetuses are aborted. If red states ban abortion, we could see a world where they have five times as many children with Down syndrome, and similar numbers for other disabilities. Could be outliers in the whole developed world. There are already negative stereotypes of Americans in these states, one can imagine it getting much more extreme. What if they also ban genetic engineering and embryo selection, while other places go ahead? Will they maintain their belief in a small safety net and lower government spending in such a world? Would liberals change their minds about government spending if it ends up going to states that have much higher costs due to these laws? Many interesting things to think about.”
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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