Pro-life? Not if you oppose childcare assistance, paid maternity leave


I’m a pro-life feminist — Hillary Clinton says we exist, so it must be true — and a conservatarian who has served as a Republican election judge and voted “R” in every presidential election since I turned 18.

Now that I’ve properly alarmed and outraged both sides, I’d like to broach a subject that is near and dear to my pro-life feminist heart: Donald Trump’s recent maternity leave and child care assistance proposals, which are being widely decried by conservatives.

{mosads}I sometimes like to play a game called “Spot The Real Pro-Life Advocate.” It goes something like this:

  1. Are you opposed to abortion?

  2. Do you support government programs meant to offer assistance to needy single mothers such as child care tax credits and paid maternity leave?

If you answered “no” to that second question, congratulations: you are not a real pro-life advocate.

The time has come for self-styled pro-life advocates to stop insulting our intelligence by telling us that they want to stop abortion as they stand idly by and do nothing to treat the reasons why women seek out abortions in the first place. “Financial reasons” have always been high on lists of reasons for why women choose abortion (e. g., Biggs, Gould & Foster, 2013).

My home state of Illinois is one of many states where the cost of childcare is more than the cost of public college tuition — funny how you can take out government-subsidized loans for the latter regardless of income, but won’t receive any assistance with childcare whatsoever once you pass a very low income threshold. Is it any wonder that my state “enjoys” one of the highest abortion rates in the country?

Many of the commentaries I am reading on Trump’s proposals are noting disdainfully how many single women are having babies. This puzzles me. I realize “keep your legs together” is Plan A in most pro-life playbooks, but isn’t “keep your baby” our Plan B? Why aren’t we willing to fund our Plan B?

I have considerable personal experience with being a desperate, impoverished pregnant woman. You see, I converted to Christianity as a young adult, wore my little “True Love Waits” ring through high school and college, saved myself for the wedding night, then birthed the kind of disabled child that the pro-choice movement says I ought to have aborted — or in other words, I did everything that the pro-life movement says a person should do.

I guess my husband didn’t get the memo on what he was supposed to do, because he abandoned his pregnant wife and disabled daughter a few years back, and I found myself returning to full-time work at 7 months pregnant for the first time in 7 years. Those days of looking down the barrel of 6-12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave from the $12/hr temp job that I was using to support myself and my disabled child were some of the bleakest of my life.

I found myself wondering why women in Pakistan get 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, but American women don’t even get 6. I also wondered why the pro-life movement had no interest in supporting faithful adherents of its gospel such as myself.

I make more money now, but it’s just barely too much to qualify for state child care assistance, and finding affordable childcare for my two children is my greatest financial strain. The other positive change in my life is that my government job gives me 4 weeks of paid maternity leave should I ever become pregnant again. You see, the government knows how beneficial paid maternity leave is; it just isn’t giving it to you.

The pro-life movement tells us, “Women deserve better than abortion,” and I couldn’t agree more. We deserve paid maternity leave and childcare assistance so that we can better raise the children we’ve chosen to give life to.

Bridget Jack Jeffries is a human resources professional and independent scholar from Chicago. Her interviews on religion have appeared in The Washington Post and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Child care Donald Trump Hillary Clinton maternity leave United States

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