I am writing this just a day after the news broke about the likelihood of the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and bringing the issue of abortion back to the states. What this means is those in need of abortion services will no longer be protected by federal law, and instead their reproductive rights will be at the whim of their state legislature.
For women like me, who live in states like New York, nothing will change. However, for the thousands of women who live in states poised to enact the strictest abortion laws in the country, the overturning of Roe means they may be forced to spend obscene amounts to go out of state for an abortion, resort to unsafe and/or illegal alternatives, or continue a pregnancy they do not want.
As a mother who has carried two children in my womb, I know with a full heart the joy and wonder of bringing life into this world. I do not take this lightly, and I reject anyone who suggests those of us who are pro-choice are callous, uncaring supporters of “baby murder.” It is because of my experience with having a healthy, supported and welcomed pregnancy that I more than ever want to ensure that others have the same.
The ability to choose when to have a child is just part of the bigger picture for ensuring women and mother’s are protected. For those who choose to carry a child, we need to do a far greater job of providing them with comprehensive prenatal and post natal care.
In 2019, 754 women died from maternal causes, according to the CDC, with Black women making up a large number of these deaths. This number may not seem high, but it reflects a glaring problem with how the United States cares for moms-to-be, and the failure of our healthcare system to protect Black women in particular.
We have a culture of not taking women seriously when it comes to their health, of specifically disregarding Black women‘s experiences of pain, of valuing a fetus and then newborn above the person carrying them, and many other issues that lead to so many women needlessly dying.
Let’s say you survive childbirth, and are fortunate to deliver without complications for either yourself or your child. You are at the mercy of your employer (if you have one), and whether or not they have a comprehensive family leave policy. If you are one of the many who work for a small business or are self-employed, you will have mere weeks (if that) to recover from birth and bond with your baby before you are compelled to return to work.
And, what about those moms who need support long after the baby phase? Mothers who may be caring for children with complex medical or emotional needs, or mothers who may need care themselves, what about them? For the so-called “pro-lifers” where are you when the mom of a child born with a heart defect has to mortgage her home to pay for the medical care? Where are you when the mom is a victim of domestic abuse and needs help finding a way to afford to keep her child?
As I write this thinking about all the ways the United States continues to fail mothers, I watch the Mother’s Day commercials, with their smiling matriarchs fawning over tacky jewelry surrounded by overly smiley children with a bit of contempt. Here we are another Mother’s Day on the horizon, and we as a nation have yet to make any strides in ensuring mother’s are truly supported.
So this Mother’s Day, go ahead and send the flowers, go out to brunch, and buy the charm bracelets, but maybe also consider donating to causes that fight to protect women’s health, or to bring about better family leave policy, or to help moms who are struggling. Here is a good place to start. You can also visit my Blogging for Better section for more ideas.
Let’s commit to making Mother’s Day a time when we can truly say mothers are valued and supported.