Having an abortion is a momentous decision. And a growing number of states are expressing concern for women who are contemplating that choice.
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But while states give such solicitous attention to women planning to have an abortion, they ignore the needs of women planning to give birth. Bringing a child into the world is also a life-changing decision. Too many women have to make that choice without similar protections. It is time to demand equality and tell our legislatures to enact the Defense of Motherhood Act.
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Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness. They would also have to emphasize that working women in the United States can expect to see their wages drop 9 to 16 percent for each child and that having a child makes it significantly less likely that an unmarried woman will ever marry.
To ensure that women are not being coerced by partners, family members or clergy into bearing a child, DOMA would require that all women be interviewed about the circumstances of conception and their motives for continuing with pregnancy. Did a husband sabotage birth control? Was a woman unable to afford contraception because her employer refused to comply with the Affordable Care Act?
And, finally, pregnant women would be required to view a two-hour video featuring a colicky newborn, a toddler having a tantrum and a sulking teenager.
In addition to the provisions above, DOMA would remember the special needs of pregnant teenagers. Since a child’s decision to have a baby represents a significant turning point in a young life, lawmakers across the country have required that parents give consent or be notified before a pregnant teen can receive an abortion.
It is hard to understand why similar protections have not been afforded to girls who plan to give birth. After all, only about half of teen moms finish high school, and they may well rely on their parents to raise and support their babies. Therefore, under DOMA, prenatal care for a minor would not be available without at least one parent signing a statement acknowledging the limited life prospects and economic opportunities for teen mothers.
Huh-HA! (Try to say it in your head like Niecy Nash as Deputy Raineesha Williams–isn’t that better?) I have only one question: Why the hell wasn’t this published on Mother’s Day? Duh!
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