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Fighting Off the Pressure to Abort

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No woman should feel like abortion is her only choice. Yet because of the lies of the abortion industry and at many times due to broken community safety nets, many women feel they have no other options.  

The myth that women must have access to abortion to succeed was perpetuated this week by a Senate Budget hearing titled “No Rights to Speak of: The Economic Harms of Restricting Reproductive Freedom.” In his opening statement, Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) claimed that “reproductive justice is economic justice,” implying that women cannot have justice without the right to kill their unborn children. He added that “the more extreme a state’s restrictions [on abortion], the more their economy suffers.”

One of the witnesses at the hearing tried to support this claim by noting that women are having to go out of state to receive abortions and, as she claimed, other obstetric services. Dr. Leilah Zahedi-Spung, MD, practices high-risk obstetric care, including abortion procedures. Originally based in Tennessee, she and her family moved to Colorado after “Tennessee banned abortions,” claiming she could no longer provide the same quality of care to her patients under Tennessee’s new law.

Another witness’s story also relied on Tennessee’s “ban on abortion.” Allie Philips, a Democratic candidate running for a seat in the Tennessee state legislature, found out in March of 2023 that her 19-week-old baby had a long list of fetal complications and likely would not survive outside of the womb. She was told that her options were either to get an abortion or carry the baby to term, at risk to her own health. She believed that because of the Tennessee law, she would have to go out of state, an expense her family could barely afford.

Ms. Philips’ story, while tragic, highlights one of the many lies told about state laws that prohibit abortions. Physicians can use good faith medical judgment to perform lifesaving procedures for pregnant women in every state that restricts abortion. It simply is not true that women in Ms. Philips’ position have to seek care elsewhere. There is no state ban on abortion, in that sense.

Other Senators on the Committee trotted out other, tired fearmongering lines. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) used Dr. Zahedi-Spung’s story to claim that laws prohibiting abortion are “driving obstetric doctors out of red states.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) repeated the idea that women who suffer miscarriages cannot receive care in states that limit abortions.

Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pointed out the absurdity of a budget hearing on abortion by noting that “life is priceless” and that “there’s a reason this committee has not historically dealt with this issue.” The purview of the Budget Committee is economic matters, and to reduce babies to mere dollar signs in order to make the topic relevant to budgetary matters is dehumanizing.

When it was his turn to question witnesses, Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) got to the heart of the issue – the most important person in these debates, the baby, is never taken into account. He asked Dr. Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middleburg College, if she agreed with Whitehouse’s claim that “reproductive justice is economic justice.” She said that she did, to which Kennedy responded, “But there’s no economic justice for the baby right?” This baffled Dr. Myers, who replied that as an economist, she doesn’t consider questions of personhood. So to clear up confusion, Kennedy said that “there’s no economic justice for the baby because the baby is dead.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) stated that “Republicans want to force women to stay pregnant but won’t lift a finger to help new parents.” Not only do those who support life believe the baby is more than an economic figure, but they champion providing every resource necessary to families.

Dr. Tamra Call, Director of Obria Medical Center in Iowa, discussed all of the ways her pregnancy centers educate and care for the women who come through her doors, always keeping both their welfare and that of their child’s at the forefront. Her center educates women about what the abortion procedure entails and all of the other options available to them. They provide ultrasounds to women who have pregnancy symptoms, but they also treat depression, difficulty sleeping, and relational problems that women have after having had an abortion.

There are several Senate bills that Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) has endorsed that would support the work of centers like Obria, such as the Pregnancy Center Support Act, that help provide women with life-giving resources.

As a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former domestic policy advisor for the Trump Administration, witness Leslie Ford’s career focus is reforming what’s known as the “safety net,” the myriad welfare benefits available to low-income women and families. Many women think that abortion is their only option because the current system discourages those things most likely to bring them out of a position where the addition of another mouth to feed seems financially impossible – stable jobs, marriages, community support. Ms. Ford noted that “unmarried women who do not declare the father of their children are eligible for thousands of more dollars’ worth of benefits than their married peers.” The result is an extremely high rate of kids being raised by single moms, which both economically strains the mom and perpetuates the generational cycle of poverty.

Sadly, the one-sided hearing felt more like a calculated effort to score political points, than the sort of dialogue that is really needed to have an honest conversation on the topic. The pro-abortion side was once interested in making it “safe, legal and rare,” but that is no longer the case. They do not seem interested in providing the support that mothers truly need to provide for their family when faced with a particularly challenging pregnancy. If we came together as a country to help mothers with half the effort that is put into fighting for abortion, the abortion industry would be irrelevant.

As Ms. Ford noted, “unplanned pregnancies present real challenges, but abortion is not the answer.” The hundreds of thousands of women we represent at Concerned Women for America agree and will not stop fighting for mothers and their children until every one of them is properly protected and supported in the law and culture.