A new joint statement calls on elected officials to drive down the demand for abortion.
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, the long-awaited post-Roe era has arrived. After decades of struggle and hundreds of pro-life laws passed, pro-life legislators finally have the opportunity to not only restrict—and, where possible, criminalize—abortion, but to respond with policies oriented toward driving down the demand for abortion, as well.
As recently pointed out by Marvin Olasky, whose new book on the history of abortion in America was released this month, when abortion was illegal, abortionists often still operated with impunity. A multi-front war is necessary, not just on supply: “Going forward, pro-lifers need to emphasize compassionate approaches that can reduce demand for abortions.”
To that end, many pro-life leaders are already advocating a range of new policy options for a post-Roe America. Americans United for Life and the beleaguered Democrats for Life of America released a white paper this month titled “Make Birth Free: A Vision for Congress to Empower American Mothers, Families, and Communities.” A nation in which abortion is almost universally orders of magnitude cheaper than safely giving birth is a nation in which the incentives skew toward feticide.
That is a problem of policy, not of culture. The proposal has already been endorsed by high-profile politicians such as Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, who noted: “We sent over $100b to Ukraine in the last year. For half that, we could make birth free in this country, end the surprise billings that devastate families with newborns, and possibly save the lives of a lot of new moms.”
Additionally, hundreds of pro-life leaders, activists, academics, and journalists have signed on to an unprecedented joint statement authored by Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, Charlie Camosy of Creighton University, Josh Brahm of the Equal Rights Institute, and myself. Titled “Building a Post-Roe Future” and signed by leaders such as Lila Rose of Live Action, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, Erika Bachiochi of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, and hundreds of others, the statement advocates policies designed to attack the demand for abortion:
Among the policies that should be broadly embraced by the pro-life movement and advanced by elected officials are:
- Accessible and affordable healthcare for parents and children—including expanding Medicaid funding for prenatal care, delivery, and postpartum expenses—to reduce the financial barriers to welcoming a new child;
- Expanded child tax credits that promote family formation and lift children out of poverty;
- Paid parental leave that ensures every infant can receive the close attention and nurturing care they need from their mothers and fathers in the early months of life;
- Flexible work hours to enable families to establish a tranquil home life, with predictable work schedules and better options for meaningful part-time employment;
- Affordable childcare options that support working parents, without disincentivizing the choice to raise young children at home that many families say they would prefer;
- Fully enforce existing prenatal child support laws while seeking effective new ways to demand that all men take responsibility for children they father.
We realize that not every government has the fiscal capacity to enact every measure that might reduce abortion, and that these policies must be carefully crafted to empower families without disincentivizing work or promoting unhealthy dependence on government.
It is essential to note here that this statement in no way insinuates that the pro-life movement has not been totally committed to supporting both children and mothers before now—indeed, an incredible network of over 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers and other charitable institutions were set up across the U.S. during the Roe era, an unprecedented endeavor that exists almost nowhere else in the West and funded by millions upon millions of private pro-life dollars—while the abortion industry has received enormous sums of money from the government.
But in a post-Roe era, with laws restoring pre-born human rights being passed on the state level, private money will simply not be enough, which is why so many pro-lifers who work in the pastoral arm of the movement are signatories. Over the past several years, The American Conservative has consistently published voices calling for the embrace of pro-life, pro-family policies that attack abortion from the perspectives of both supply and demand.
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I’ve had the opportunity to pen a few of those columns myself, from a review of Daniel K. Williams’ brilliant 2021 book The Politics of the Cross: A Christian Alternative to Partisanship (his previous work Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade highlighted the longstanding ideological diversity of the movement) to an interview on pro-family policy with Hungary’s then-Family Minister Katalin Novák, who now serves as president.
The response to the “Building a Post-Roe Future” statement is particularly encouraging in that it has been signed by leaders from every faction of the movement and from a wide range of ideological backgrounds. We disagree on much, but what we can agree that pro-life and pro-family policies that put mothers and children first are essential to rebuilding a culture devastated by decades under the rule of Roe v. Wade.
A new conversation has begun in earnest, and new opportunities have been presented. The post-Roe future can be one in which state incentives do not push people toward the abortion clinic—but instead ensure that the lineup in the waiting room evaporates.