The Light is shining brightly, exposing areas of darkness that have been overlooked. About two months before the actual decision was made regarding Roe Vs. Wade, Samuel Alito’s draft opinion was leaked arguing that the reproductive rights ruling of 1973 should be overturned, and it was. During their confirmation hearings, recently appointed Justices: Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch gave serious speeches about stare decisis and following precedent, but once on the bench, they ignored their earlier words. They decided that there is no constitutional right to reproductive health care.
This country has not made the necessary investments in the children already born to be making claims about protecting the lives of the unborn. You can’t nurture life by prohibiting drugs and medical procedures for reproductive health—a “just say no attitude” is not going to work. There needs to be more financial and moral assistance available to families and/or single parents, from the time of conception until the child is a young adult (18). Children are an important investment of time, patience, love, and resources.
The average cost of raising a child from infancy to a young adult in the U.S. is $233,610, as reported in 2015. This figure excludes the cost of higher education. There is no mandatory maternity/paternity leave in our system. The cost of childcare is prohibitive, more than $10,000 per year paid out of pocket.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded to help families in 2021 through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The legislation boosted the credit to $3,000 from $2,000, with a $600 bonus for kids under the age of 6 for the 2021 tax year. Half of the credit was delivered in monthly payments, which ran from July 2021 to December 2021. Deposits of $300 for children under the age of 6 and $250 for those aged 6 to 17. Families received the second half of the credit in a lump sum when they filed taxes this year. Despite the popularity of the program, it was allowed to end in January of 2022. The pandemic is not over, rising food and fuel prices have not receded, but families are once again under water with many parents reporting not being able to feed their kids without great sacrifice. In the 8th richest country in the world there is little financial assistance available unless you are destitute. Aid is often means tested and temporary. As soon as your financial circumstances improve a little the aid is taken away or reduced.
The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among 11 developed countries while paying the highest cost for care. The U.S. spends more than most developed nations on healthcare without the corresponding improvements in health. In 2020, U.S. healthcare spending reached $4.1 trillion, which averages to over $12,500 per person. There is no universal health care in our system.
Asking someone to have and raise a child is a big ask. Our system is not up to the task of plugging the gaps if the parent encounters a hole. A person who has made a conscious decision to have a child is usually best suited to the task of raising one. No one is mandating, yet, that you must become pregnant, just that if you do, even if it is unintended, based on which State you live in, you must carry the fetus to term, no matter the circumstances of conception.
This decision seems to be less about protection of life than it is about protecting power and the status quo. It is a weak move that will be undone by those it targets.