ALEXANDRIA, VA: A new law in Texas allows any person to sue abortion providers who terminate an unborn human being if a heartbeat is detected. This has abortion advocates outraged, especially as the U.S. Supreme Court decided that they would not intervene.
While abortion providers and advocates focus on the new law, as Feminists for Life, we prefer to focus on what women have told the Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s former research arm) about why they sought abortions, primarily a lack of resources and support. This is our task list. Those at greatest risk are the poorest among us, students, young working women, and mothers of born children. This is whom we need to serve.
In 2019, more than 56,600 abortions were performed on women in Texas. Nearly four in 10 were repeat abortions. Abortion is a reflection that we have not yet met the needs of women.
How can we best support both pregnant women and their babies at this unique moment in Texas history? By ensuring they receive the resources and assistance they need to thrive. Texas legislators have stepped up with $100 million over the next biennium — a twentyfold budget increase — to assist women through Alternatives to Abortion. This program served 100,000 pregnant women and parents last year, and is set to expand.
We can also support Texas’ numerous pregnancy resource centers that already offer comprehensive services, such as free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, maternity and baby clothes, diapers, and connections to a myriad of services, such as legal aid, child support enforcement, WIC, TANF, and SNAP. Some provide new cribs, strollers, and car seats. They do not charge a dime for their extensive help.
At the federal level, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has introduced a bill called Care For Her — crafted with the input of women and co-sponsored by nine congresswomen from across the country. This groundbreaking legislation would create a federal/state partnership to ensure pregnant women and mothers feel fully supported through an array of services. In a significant financial boost for new mothers everywhere, the child tax credit would also be extended to unborn children, retroactive from birth.
Feminists for Life of America is doing our part to support the women of Texas this fall. Since 36% of women seeking abortions in Texas in 2020 were college-aged, there is much to be done to ensure no woman feels forced to choose between having her child and pursuing her education.
FFL stands ready to lead individual campus, regional, or a statewide Pregnancy and Parenting Resource Forum℠ to identify gaps in support and evaluate what policies are in place by university administrators, what resources are available on or off campus, and how best to communicate the available services to pregnant and parenting students. This is especially important, as one in five students is a parent.
We have built an extensive helpsite, WomenDeserveBetter.com, to help women identify resources and strategies to thrive, raise children, and pursue their dreams on a tight budget. Many apply to women who are newly needy due to COVID-19.
While feminists on both sides of a contentious debate can disagree about abortion, we can all rally around addressing the unmet needs of women. The women of Texas — and women everywhere — deserve better.
Serrin M. Foster is president of Feminists for Life of America and is editor-in-chief of WomenDeserveBetter.com and The American Feminist magazine.
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