Pro-life Americans are excited the Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, and justifiably so. Over the last five decades, 63 million babies were never given a chance to pursue the American Dream. The murder of the unborn is a national tragedy, and I will never shy away from defending their right to life.
However, being pro-life has always meant more than being against abortion. Being truly pro-life requires an understanding of the pain and struggle, arising from serious difficulties and responsibilities motherhood entails, which lead a woman to abort her baby. As we take steps to protect the unborn, we have a duty to address those challenges. As with every issue, there is no silver bullet here. Nevertheless, the government can and should do more to support mothers and their babies.
At the very least, we need to dramatically expand the child tax credit for working families and allow new parents to pull some of their Social Security savings forward to finance time off of work. That alone will not be enough, though. Expectant mothers — especially those who are surprised by, and unprepared for, pregnancy — require additional support in the form of mentorship, counseling, medical care and more.
This is particularly true for low-income mothers, who often lack access to resources and social support structures available to the more privileged. We can’t ignore the fact that roughly half of all abortions occur with women living below the federal poverty line. Increasing funding to the Special Supplemental Nutrients for Women, Infants, and Children program would provide much-needed aid to low-income mothers. It is a change that I hope my fellow conservatives will support.
Another step in the right direction would be the creation of a new federal grant encouraging churches and other community stakeholders to participate in motherhood mentoring initiatives. Unlike entities that profit from abortion, these local organizations are invested in their communities and the women and children who are a part of it.
We must also do more to make adoption feasible and attractive, for both pregnant women and would-be parents. That includes providing women with resources and support throughout their pregnancy, as well as expanding tax relief for couples who adopt.
In addition, Congress should push states to follow Utah’s lead in requiring the biological father to pay at least half of a mother’s pregnancy-related medical costs. We need to make it easier to collect child support, too. One of the most heartbreaking reasons mothers choose an abortion is fear that the father will not do his part. That’s something women shouldn’t have to worry about.
Finally, there is a lot of work to be done in the realm of maternal health. Though America is the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country in the world, we still struggle to keep moms healthy and safe. My Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act, which became law last month, will help us take better care of our mothers and reduce maternal mortality. There is no reason why we should not pass more legislation in the same vein.
The issue of abortion inflames political passions on both sides. One side asserts the rights of women and ignores the rights of the unborn child. My side believes we must do everything we can to give every human a chance at life. That’s why I will soon introduce the Providing for Life Act, sweeping legislation that will touch on the issues in this article and many more — because being pro-life means protecting babies and their mothers.
• Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator representing the state of Florida.
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