The first thing I did when Roe v. Wade was overturned was apologize to my daughters. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision will affect them more than me.
I’m 47, happily married and have my tubes tied. My daughters are 21 and 26. This decision changes their life. The rights they understood in their formative years have been deemed a “states’ issue.” The fight now becomes a local one.
Each of my daughters knows that if they were ever faced with an unwanted pregnancy, they have family support. But for those in our community who do not have access to such support either financially or emotionally, they will suffer the most.
I’ve written about the fact that I had an abortion when I was 19. I was homeless and couch surfing. But here’s the part I haven’t written about: It wasn’t my first choice.
Anti-abortion advocates like to tell me I should have gone to the nearest church. Well, when you’re homeless you ask the people you encounter for help. And I did ask for help.
The person who impregnated me was certainly not interested in helping. He made it clear it was my problem.
The family of a good friend considered helping me but, in the end, it was understandably too much to ask. I am grateful they even considered.
The only help I received was in the form of a cash settlement. I was the passenger in a car that had crashed months earlier. The money arrived right on time and that friend knew where to find me.
Suddenly, I had the means for the only decision that made any sense. The payout barely covered the cost. When I left the clinic, I had $20 left for my cab ride to nowhere.
These scenes are what play through my head when I see celebrations from those who feel this U.S. Supreme Court decision is the right one.
Who will help the women?
Research shows that maternal mortality is higher in states where abortion is restricted. In the pursuit of saving potential babies, we will lose actual living, breathing women.
Who will help these women?
Most states have chosen to end their state of emergency declaration related to COVID-19 and by doing so surrendered the financial benefits that came with that. The Health and Human Services Department will keep the federal declaration until at least November. The pandemic is still ongoing.
States could have chosen to support struggling families through the fall but did not. This means families face food insecurity this summer without the support of school meals and have already seen their much-needed state support decline.
Who will help the women?
Justice Clarence Thomas has set sights on restricting access to contraception. He wrote it in his concurring opinion of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision. By doing so the burden is placed squarely on women.
Men do not share in the responsibility of pregnancy and childbirth without choice. They do not walk around with evidence of their sexual activity and are not saddled with the expectation to bring a potential child into the world. They maintain the privilege and possibility of simply walking away.
You know a woman who has had an abortion. You do. The Guttmacher Institute reports that 62% of women who obtain abortions identify as women of faith. So even in the most conservative of circles, you know someone who has had an abortion.
Now, you most certainly know a woman who needs help.
If you are anti-abortion and celebrate this overturning of Roe v. Wade, you must go all in to support the funding needed to help women. Why didn’t “pro-life” start by enthusiastically supporting women to begin with?
Not by putting up “choose life” billboards and shaming hard choices, but by supporting the programs and legislation to feed, clothe and nourish hungry families. By supporting social work, education, public health, welfare, paid parental leave, sex education, consent, mental health and domestic violence prevention.
The greatest societal infrastructure is female, and every corner of our society needs even more funding now. Hard times are about to get harder for women and families.
— Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a wife, mother of three kids, and the opinion editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisville Courier-Journal. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, followed through her YouTube channel and on Twitter: @WriterBonnie, or click here to learn more about her. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.