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Howsden: Want to help kids? ‘Build Back Better’ is a good place to start

By LES HOWSDEN
Longtime Amity resident

Steve Rutledge’s piece on failing our children explicitly pointed out the fact this has particularly dramatic effects where poverty exists.

Many of the childhood services provided as public services in other countries — child care, preschool, health care, family leave and adequate food — are things that can be purchased if the family has sufficient resources. But they are precisely the kind of services conservatives strenuously oppose, exemplified by the opposition to the Build Back Better plan.

This opposition is difficult to understand when this same group is so adamantly opposed to abortion, as this failing will get much worse if Roe is overturned.

In 2017, there were 856,730 abortions reported in the U.S. Roughly half were performed on women living below the poverty line and another quarter very close to it.

Sixty percent were performed on women with existing children. Almost half the women were either married or in long-term relationships. One of the most common reasons for seeking an abortion was to be a better parent to children already in the home.

Poverty results in lack of access to health care, including contraception. It’s a major reason women find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.

When I hear conservatives gloating that the unconstitutional Texas abortion law has saved 2,500 “lives” per month since Sept. 1, I think what a tragedy to learn 2,500 unwanted children are being born every month in Texas alone, virtually all to poor mothers as those with means can leave the state.

How many of the estimated 2.5 million people who exist because their mothers could not afford an abortion over the past 50 years have become productive citizens? How many are incarcerated? How many committed suicide?

A 2014 Supreme Court decision blocked the Affordable Care Act’s birth control guarantee based on a “sincerely held religious belief,” even though belief that contraceptives act as abortifacients is factually false.

Amy Coney Barrett’s view that “safe haven” laws reduce the need for abortion is naïve. The plaintiff’s attorney indicated having a baby in Mississippi is 75 times riskier than undergoing a pre-viability abortion.

The average maternal death rate in the U.S. is approximately 34.5 per 100,000 live births. Being poor doubles the risk and being Black more than triples it.

The need to stop failing our children will require reorientation of our resources. Overturning Roe will only make things incrementally worse.

Build Back Better would be a good place to start.

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