- Removing the Roe blockade is bound to unleash a torrent of innovative ways to help moms and their families. Tweet This
- One of the most important ways to help women to choose life is to empower the fathers of their unborn children to step up. Tweet This
- Building a pro-mother culture entails a multi-faceted approach targeting all the reasons pregnant women often feel alone and scared—starting by offering support and encouragement to both parents. Tweet This
Florida governor Ron DeSantis ruffled feathers when he took on the “fatherhood crisis” in a pointed way during a recent press conference. DeSantis admonished men to “do the right thing and be present in your child’s life,” just before signing a bill that will spend $70 million dollars on promoting fatherhood and male role models in at-risk communities where such figures are sorely lacking. “You’re not a man by leaving your kids hung out to dry,” he continued. “You need to be there. It takes a lot of responsibility, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of effort. But that is what we are called upon to do.”
His words may have seemed a bit like a throwback to the Bush II years, when promoting fatherhood was a platform issue of that presidency. And yet they should ring pitch perfect in a post-Dobbs era, when the overturning of Roe v. Wade means that we are called more than ever as a society to find fresh ways to help pregnant women and build a pro-family and life-affirming culture. They are a reminder that one of the most important ways to help women to choose life is to empower the fathers of their unborn children to step up. Building a pro-mother culture entails a multi-faceted approach targeting all the reasons pregnant women often feel alone and scared—starting by offering support and encouragement to both parents of the unborn child.
Not having a supportive partner is certainly a major stress on women facing unexpected pregnancies. But initiatives like Florida’s are just the start. Now more than ever is the time to revive efforts to build what some in the pro-life movement have termed a “pro-life safety net” for women and children.
Paid family leave is a critical, and doable, piece of the puzzle. Not the European-style, year-plus mandate that is both unmanageable for the American economy and unpassable in a divided Congress. However recent years have seen more than one creative and scaled-down approach to tackling the family leave beast, such as the Rubio-Romney plan that would allow new parents to take paid leave by borrowing from their social security accounts and repaying themselves by delaying their retirement by a few months. It’s a commonsense, budget-neutral way to give parents critical time with their newborns without having to forfeit the basic ability to provide. Paid family leave is just one part of a broader pro-family policy parcel that has gained recent steam and includes expanding the child tax credit and reducing the marriage penalty in the tax code among other ideas that have been thoroughly explored on these pages.
But before getting to paid time off, how do we help a woman move from staring in terror at a positive pregnancy test to delivering a baby, whether she chooses to place the baby for adoption or raise the baby herself?
For starters, by investing more in pregnancy resource centers. Though under attack—both rhetorically by staunch pro-choice policymakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who recently advocated to “shut them down all around the country,” or physically by activists vandalizing them with threats and arson—these centers are essential places of welcome and support to pregnant women seeking a true choice.
They offer women much more than free prenatal care by empowering them to feel they can thrive as mothers with parenting classes, including for fathers-to-be, job assistance, and in many cases, a place to live until they are on their feet. As the head of one group of centers recently said in an interview,
I quickly found out that there really was no place for a young woman who was almost 18, with a baby, to go. She wanted to go on to school, find a good job, give her baby a better life. There was no place like that for her. Her only options were public assistance—welfare—and a rat-infested, drug den called a welfare hotel.
Melinda Henneberger likewise detailed the many ways pregnancy centers truly help women in crisis:
So what gaps are Sacramento Life filling exactly? A fully licensed and accredited medical clinic, it signs clients up for Medi-Cal and WIC and finds them doctors, including pediatricians, for ongoing care. It’s non-religious and does not proselytize, but does offer prenatal vitamins and care, parenting classes, fatherhood mentors for men, big-ticket items such as strollers, car seats, and cribs, and a monthly supply of diapers, baby food, and clothes for two years. All of this is free—paid for through private donations.
Rather than “crack down” on these centers, policymakers should follow the example of Texas, which coupled its abortion law with $100 million in funding (over two years) for pregnancy resource centers.
Other more niche and creative ideas are blooming. Just two years ago, for example, one university launched a mixed residence for single mothers, retired nuns, and senior citizens, giving the mothers a stable place to reside and raise their babies in the presence of experienced caregivers who benefit from the joy of living with young people and children. So the moms can finish their educations with free childcare to boot. Such is the stuff of a new era. Removing the Roe blockade is bound to unleash a torrent of equally innovative ways to help moms and their families. A nation as prosperous and entrepreneurial as ours is certainly up to this most important task.
Ashley E. McGuire is a Contributing Editor at the Institute for Family Studies and the author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female (Regnery, 2017).
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.