Published July 22, 2022
Democrats have long described themselves as the pro-choice party. But it turns out the only choice many progressive politicians can imagine for women facing unintended pregnancies is abortion — and their fanaticism is leading them to stand in the way of actual assistance for women and their babies.
Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose first response to the Dobbs decision was to suggest subsidizing abortion clinics across the border in Canada, is vetoing over $20 million in state funding that would have centers that assist pregnant women. Her fear? That these centers would be too effective at helping women discover alternatives to abortion.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, wants to go a step further. Pregnancy resource centers can’t be allowed to offer women the support they need to continue their pregnancy, she told reporters. “[W]e need to shut them down all around the country. You should not be able to torture a pregnant person like that.”
To be clear — the “torture” she is talking about is providing baby clothes, diapers, formula, childcare and utilities assistance, job training, and other services aimed at the crucial pre- and post-natal periods in a new mom’s life. Pregnancy resources centers provide true accompaniment to moms and their babies. Progressives want that aid to be harder to come by out of an ideological commitment to abortion as a hollow means of self-empowerment.
It’s time to be honest. If these leading Democrats were truly pro-choice, they’d be open to working with Republicans to get resources to moms interested in keeping their babies. Instead, it is increasingly clear that their pro-choice rhetoric has become, in practice, pro-only-one-choice: abortion.
Pointing out their extremism is the first step for conservatives. But after the Supreme Court’s ruling that gave states the power to protect unborn life, Republicans have a golden opportunity to be the party that is authentically pro-life, pro-parent, and pro-family.
Overall, roughly 2,000 pregnancy centers provide assistance to moms in communities across the country. Their efforts are heroic, and many are stretched thin. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, they need to be backed up by a policy agenda that recognizes some of the burdens that pregnant moms bear and makes family life a little easier for parents across America.
Already, 14 states provide funding for alternatives to abortion programs, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Michigan would have been the fifteenth, if not for Whitmer’s ideological blinders. This year alone, states are spending a total of $156 million on centers that serve pregnant moms and their babies.
In D.C., congressional Republicans are starting to generate their own proposals for supporting moms and families. Immediately after the Court’s decision, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, rolled out a legislative package that strengthened the traditional safety net, while also proposing innovative mentorship approaches and networks to help low-income moms build pathways towards a better future.
In June, Sens. Mitt Romney, R-UT, Richard Burr, R-NC, and Steve Daines, R-MT, introduced a proposal to streamline the tangle of low-income tax credits and deductions into a single, monthly benefit for families with a working parent. Importantly, these benefits would begin flowing four months before birth — a tangible way of getting expectant parents the resources they need. The plan would also be budget-neutral, supporting families without adding to the national debt.
These are just some of the ways that Republicans are proving their commitment to being pro-life goes beyond protecting the child in the womb. Democrats who were serious about wanting to improve options for families would negotiate across the aisle to pass some of the bills being proposed to lighten parents’ load. Instead, they’d rather pine for “Build Back Better”-style approaches to childcare with no political future, and block funding for centers that provide actual aid to women.
A Republican Party that supports funding crisis pregnancy centers, strengthening support structures for pregnant moms, and investing in families will unquestionably own the label of being a parents’ party. And it will demonstrate that whatever politicians like Whitmer and Warren may say, an agenda that refuses to work across the aisle and blocks money from centers that aid expectant moms, no longer deserves to be called pro-choice, but fully pro-abortion.
Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where his work focuses on developing a robust pro-family economic agenda and supporting families as the cornerstone of a healthy and flourishing society.