On a recent clinic day, 13 women were scheduled for abortions but the waiting room was jammed with more than 30 people — the patients, spouses, children, parents, friends. Some patients coming from far away had to bring their young children because they could not get child care. Others, such as a 23-year-old woman who drove here in the early morning from Rapid City with her boyfriend, left their children at home and would have to turn right back after their abortion to return to their families.
“I figured I could get the abortion in Rapid City,” said the woman, who has a 2-year-old daughter. “And I didn’t know it would be so expensive. We had to borrow the money to get here.”
The woman was 45 days pregnant, she said, the day she drove 350 miles to take the RU-486 abortion pill and then drive back. “I have to get back home to my daughter,” said the woman, who said she was working full time and attending college part time to become a medical administrator. (She and the others interviewed did not want their names in the newspaper.) The woman said she had decided on abortion because “I can’t afford another child, and I need to finish school and work to support the one I got.” She receives $50 a month in child support and less than $200 a month in food stamps but was deemed ineligible for any further public assistance because of her full-time job.
This is the kind of thing that blows me away. I can understand why the legislators in South Dakota have put up so many roadblocks to abortions (if you believe that abortion is a form of killing, then it is understandable why legislators would do all they can to limit abortion access), but what I don’t understand is why the state is not addressing the root cause of abortion, which is primarily an issue of economics. The woman in the pull quote above is a prime example. She is working full-time (at I would guess a low-wage job) and probably paying for child care so she can work and go to school. Yet, even though this woman is doing all of this, she’s getting $50 per month in child support (that’s jacked up… she must have had a crappy lawyer to get such low child support) and less than $200 in governmental assistanace.
I personally think it is cruel and irresponsible for the state to require a woman to bear a child if the state is not going to back her up 100% financially in taking care of the child. It’s a pretty lousy choice to know that you can either have the child and suffer financially (and make your children suffer too), or have an abortion.
So I guess that’s why I’m both pro-choice and pro-life, because I think that the best way to get rid of the evil of abortion is by making it a far less attractive choice. Pregnant mothers should be able to count on having full financial support for their choice to not abort their child. What South Dakota is doing is to take away the right to an abortion, while at the same time refusing to lift any of the burden of having the child from the mother. Why not make the father pay more than $50 per month in child support? ($50!? that won’t even pay for diapers!) Why not provide education to the mother so that she can get a better job? (or better, get rid of the welfare work requirements for mothers with young children… it seems like a much better idea to let a mother stay home with her children than to have to work and put the kids in daycare) Heck, why not provide free birth control (and education) so that the odds of another unplanned preganancy will be reduced?