Parenting with Dignity: Part One in a Series


RH Reality Check is partnering with the Center for American Progress (CAP) to promote a series of policy briefs created by CAP on the economic and social supports required to ensure women can engage in "parenting with dignity."  This introductory essay will be followed by a series of articles addressing various aspects of how to better support women and mothers, and with efforts to  share these analyses widely with both the mainstream and new media communities. 

In the debate over finding “common ground” on abortion, much has
been made of the fact that, when asked why they chose to have an
abortion, many women say, “I can’t afford another child right now.”
Given this response, some have suggested that providing additional
supports to pregnant women might help reduce the abortion rate. The
thinking goes that if women feel the economic obstacles are too great
to carry a pregnancy to term—especially an unintended pregnancy—then
policies that ease those burdens may help a woman ultimately have a
child that she wants to have. An alternative line of thinking suggests
that if a woman is trying to decide between abortion and carrying to
term, additional supports may tip the balance and lead her to choose
having the child.

The Center for American Progress continues to believe that, per the
public health data, widespread access to contraception is the most
effective method available for reducing unintended pregnancy,
especially when coupled with medically accurate sex education.
Unintended pregnancy is, after all, the proximate cause of the vast
majority of abortions. We also believe that the government should not
be in the business of promoting one moral viewpoint over another, nor
should it try to persuade individuals to make particular health care
decisions that have no bearing on public health outcomes.

Nevertheless, we do believe in taking a comprehensive approach to
addressing reproductive health needs and we feel that it is an
important policy objective in its own right to provide better supports
to pregnant women, regardless of any potential subsequent effect on the
abortion rate. We will therefore be examining, through a series of
issue briefs, a variety of meaningful ways in which we can better
address the needs of pregnant women.

When a woman says she can’t afford a child, she is not just thinking
of the nine months of pregnancy, the first few months after the child
is born, or even the first few years of life. She is most likely
thinking about the next 18 years—or beyond—and how she will clothe,
bathe, feed, house, nurture, and educate another human being for that
entire period of time.

She may already have one or more children to care for—indeed 6 out
of every 10 women who have abortions are already mothers. She may be
the primary caretaker for a disabled or elderly member of her family.
She may want a family one day but feel economically or emotionally
unprepared to start one now. She may have a partner who is willing to
help raise a child or not. She may be working, unemployed, or trying to
finish her education so she can better support herself and her loved
ones. If working, she may have secure employment, or she may be one
sick day away from a pink slip. She may be in perfect health, have a
chronic illness, struggle with addiction, or suffer intimate partner
violence. She may have health insurance, or she may be uninsured. She
might consider adoption or think it is out of the question.

In short, a multitude of factors may affect her decision to continue
or terminate a pregnancy. And “I can’t afford a child right now” can
encompass a number of these factors. Diapers and formula are clearly
not sufficient. Systematic changes to health care, the workplace, the
adoption system, and others are necessary to have a real effect on the
lives of pregnant women.

Click here to read more from the series.

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Follow Jessica Arons on twitter: @jrarons

  • amie-newman

    Jessica,

    Thank you for this. This line really hit me:

    Nevertheless, we do believe in taking a comprehensive approach to
    addressing reproductive health needs and we feel that it is an
    important policy objective in its own right to provide better supports
    to pregnant women, regardless of any potential subsequent effect on the
    abortion rate.

    This is key. Support for pregnant women – both in terms of ensuring access to health care as well as other resources – is key. Too often, focus on supporting pregnant women becomes a pawn in the abortion fight; on both sides. There are a multitude of issues to be discussed when it comes to support for pregnant women, however. Whether we are talking about incarcerated women’s access to prenatal care and treatment during childbirth, or ensuring support for pregnant teens so that they may continue with their education, this is about acknowledging how critical social and health services are for pregnant women – because women and the fetuses growing inside them deserve this support. 

    There are so many factors that must be taken into account when we examine how best to provide for pregnant women in this country. Thanks to you and CAP for starting the conversation from such a thoughtful place. 

    Amie

     

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Similarly, my child lies that he knows how to tie his shoes because he doesn’t want
    people to know that he doesn’t know how to tie his shoes. Or, it could
    be because his older sister does know how to tie her shoes, and if he told her that he didn’t know how to tie his, she might make fun of her. Or, it could be because his best friend wouldn’t want to stay friends with him if he knew that my child didn’t know how to tie his shoes. And when I want to try and teach him, he gets mad at me because he should know how to tie his shoes at his age and nobody took the time to teach him properly and patiently. Or, it could be because tying his shoes might end up taking more time than the velcro kind and he is a boy on a mission and is going to become an astronaut some day. Or, it could be because instilling right from wrong takes time, repetation, and understanding and parents who don’t know right from wrong cannot teach their children. So the sad story goes. Maybe the next generation will get it. Or better yet, maybe we could rethink our own values and change NOW!

  • invalid-0

    Actually, after I read what I wrote on the shoelace
    thing, I kind of felt it to be mean spirited, and for
    that I apologize. The article written seemed to have
    a lot of thought in it. It just seems she is putting so much time and attention on the woman’s thought process etc. and supporting her, which is good, but then what about the baby’s rights etc.? Obviously, I don’t think abortion should be legal. Take care.

  • jessica-arons

    Dear Anonymous,

     

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on my piece.  You are exactly right that I put my time and
    attention on the woman’s thought process and supporting her.  To me, that is the paramount concern. 

     

    I’m a little concerned that you compare a woman trying to
    decide whether to continue a pregnancy to a recalcitrant child who does not
    know how to tie his shoes.  I believe a
    woman is an autonomous moral agent who knows what she is doing, who is
    competent to make decisions for herself, and who deserves our respect for her
    decisions regardless of whether we agree with them or would make the same
    decisions ourselves.

     

    If you think abortion should be illegal, perhaps the woman’s
    thoughts and feelings about the pregnancy are irrelevant to you because you
    think there is only one right decision to make (i.e., to carry to term) regardless
    of her circumstances.  But since abortion
    is legal and a woman does have a decision to make, don’t you think it’s
    important to examine what women need in order to feel that they can continue a
    pregnancy to term?

  • invalid-0

    It is very important to find out what the woman needs so she can make the right decision. Since we all really have the same basic needs, that is something that shouldn’t take a whole lot of discussion. Address them and address them quickly. I think underlying that, which is more important, are their feelings. They’re scared, bigtime. If they can get the understanding that it is normal for anyone to bring someone into this world to be scared, maybe that’s a start.
    But many of these are girls who are scared of what their boyfriend will do to them, scared of what their parents will do, and just scared in general. The problem will only go deeper, on a subconscious level, when they terminate what is soon to be their very own child. And don’t kid yourself, it affects the father too. In sum, short-term pain (carry to term) equals long-term gain (beautiful child), vs. short-term gain (terminated pregnancey) vs. long-term pain (always knowing at some level that you terminated your own child). People need to get that understanding, I believe.

  • invalid-0

    See, another problem I see with staunch pro-choice people is that if truly a girl/woman came to them seeking guidance on what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, they will ultimately steer them to have the abortion, even if they
    themselves say or feel that abortion is wrong ‘for them.’ It’s because they lack the backbone, the conviction that it takes to take a true stand in something they believe in and lead someone in her time of need. It takes non-wavering. No blinking. And that for me is the bottom line. I don’t mean that to condemn anyone, just to challenge what is truly important in life. And for the baby, no doubt, life is what is important.

  • invalid-0

    See, another problem I see with staunch pro-choice people is that if truly a girl/woman came to them seeking guidance on what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, they will ultimately steer them to have the abortion

    Um… if they’re pro-choice, they will support the choice that the girl/woman makes, without cajoling or pressuring them toward one choice or another. You must be thinking of pro-abortion people. In which case, you’re at the wrong site.

    I don’t mean that to condemn anyone, just to challenge what is truly important in life.

    Yes, like women having control over their own bodies and lives.

  • invalid-0

    I think “supporting the choice” is like saying you don’t have any value/opinion on the matter, whereas you say that you do. I’d rather “support the woman” or real-world, “support the girl” and not support the choice. Like saying, “look, whatever you do I’ll love you but I do think it’s wrong, you’ll regret it, it’s gut-wrenching, and how about if the baby could talk right now to you, what would she/he want you to do?” Again, what disturbs me about pro-choice people (with influence) many times is they don’t put their own opinion on the matter out there first. I’d respect you and be able to relate to you if you would say what your own opinion is on abortion, not whether you are pro-choice or pro-life. Get it out there. Where do you stand, personally. Do you think it’s right to have an abortion, you, not someone else? That’s where the discussion begins. I would say, stop waffling and put it out there.

  • invalid-0

    I’d respect you and be able to relate to you if you would say what your own opinion is on abortion, not whether you are pro-choice or pro-life. Get it out there. Where do you stand, personally. Do you think it’s right to have an abortion, you, not someone else? That’s where the discussion begins. I would say, stop waffling and put it out there.

    You want to advocate a particular choice, not support the woman. Women faced with an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy do not need someone who will attempt to steer them one way or the other due to their own personal views; they need someone who will listen, and help them make the choice that is right for them.

    This is one reason why abortion counselors are professionally licensed, and you’re not.

  • invalid-0

    No, you are right I am not a licensed abortion counselor. I am a business man who got sidetracked on this web-site. I’ve got to get back to work where hopefully the tax dollars I pay do not support this organization (which looks like it is, unfortunately) I would challenge my own thought patterns too if it were paying the bills.

    Many people who wear their heart on their sleeves with this issue, God bless them think just that (abortion should be illegal). Most are not unintelligent, crazy, or non-flexible. They just have conviction, and for that I give them a lot of respect. For the others, may their hearts be changed, in time. I look forward to seeing the numbers who march in D.C. next year (this year it was 300,000, more than MLKs civil rights march). Momentum is gaining.

  • http://shareparentingtools.com/ invalid-0

    It is true that there are may factors why more women are now into abortions. I think, the best way to prevent abortion is to educate women or even couples on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Great post by the way.