Published June 23, 2021
Politicians rarely think about pregnant women outside of the abortion debate. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) hopes to change that.
Fortenberry has been working on a new bill, the Care for Her Act, which would make caring for a pregnant woman and meeting her needs the centerpiece of public policy. The soon-to-be-introduced legislation would do this by establishing a “commitment of care for the journey of life,” Fortenberry told me in a recent interview. He added that it would create an “opportunity for our solidarity” with women with unexpected pregnancies.
The bill has four basic provisions. First, it would make unborn children eligible for the child tax credit. Under current law, that means every expectant mother would get $3,600 she otherwise would not. Second, it would establish a federal-state partnership that assesses and catalogues all available resources and programs that an expectant mother is eligible for. Participation in the program would be voluntary for states, but those that do would commit to providing each expectant mother with that list at an appropriate time during her pregnancy, letting her know that the community is ready to care for her and her child. Third, it would provide federal grants for the advancement of maternal housing, job training and other educational opportunities. Finally, it would provide incentives to improve maternal health and child health outcomes.