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What changes are needed in a post-Roe America?

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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/08/22

Perhaps we can find ways to work together, so that through our combined efforts women receive the support they need. 

Scrolling social media after the Dobbs decision was an eye-opening experience. I saw reactions that ranged from sheer jubilation to unbridled fury. People are as divided on this issue as they could possibly be.

Christians are called to carry Christ’s peace into our world, to be instruments of unity. Drawing both sides into peace and unity on this issue feels like an impossible undertaking. But perhaps we can find a little common ground.

Deep down, what unites both sides is an intense concern for women. So perhaps that is where we can start. Large-scale policy changes are not something any of us can achieve overnight. What can we do right now, today, to support women and children in crisis?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer at or donate to your local pregnancy resource center.
  • Call your elected representatives to advocate for policies that support parental health care, child care, and parental leave.
  • Begin the process to become a foster parent or to offer respite care for foster parents (a great way to help for short periods of time).
  • Babysit free of charge for a single mom.
  • Volunteer to mentor a kid in foster care (here are more ways to help kids in foster care).
  • Make a meal for a new mom, or take a single mom and her family out to dinner.
  • Initiate a fundraiser at your school or church for a nonprofit that helps moms and kids in need.
  • Donate to a college fund for foster youth or to help kids have a better experience in foster care.

One important resource is the Into Life video series. The Sisters of Life and the McGrath Institute for Church Life teamed up with CampCampo Films to create the original 12-part series illustrating what it means to walk with a woman who is pregnant and vulnerable.

Besides offering these ideas, I sat down with Leah Libresco Sargeant for her insights. Libresco Sargeant is a Catholic writer and speaker who runs Other Feminisms, a substack community that “advocates for women as women, in the face of a world that treats women as defective men.” She is pushing back on the expectation of autonomy. “We all begin our lives dependent on others, and all the rest of our life is marked by the give and take of mutual dependence,” she said. Here is more of our conversation:

What changes will we need to see in society with Roe overturned?

Financial stressors are one of the most commonly cited reasons mothers seek abortions. And many women who seek out abortions are already raising children. We need a lot more support for families and children; partly in the form of direct cash transfers (restoring and expanding the fully refundable child tax credit), but also in terms of societal shifts so that mothers have a thicker community of support to fall back on. Every church should run a babysitting ministry as respite for parents, especially single mothers. We need to tithe our time, as well as our money, to care for the most vulnerable among us. 

How can we better support women in crisis pregnancies?

I’ve really appreciated Eve Tushnet’s writing on her crisis pregnancy work. Many of the women she meets want to choose life, but they know that it’s not the smart choice in the eyes of the world. Saying yes to their child often means remaining mired in poverty. It’s important that the first step in advocacy for these women is listening to them and giving them a voice in pro-life activist groups and policy think tanks. 

What is the role of the pro-life movement in a post-Roe world?

The same as a pre-Roe one, for the most part! It’s the work of connecting mothers with the resources that allow them to have support to parent (and advocating for expanding that support). It’s the work of convicting hearts and changing minds about the dignity of all children, whether they’re born or in the womb, whether they have the usual number of chromosomes or a trisomy, whether they were planned or unanticipated. It’s good to change the law when the law is unjust, but we don’t want to rely only on the force of the law. We want abortion to be as unthinkable as infanticide.

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