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Roe threat draws attention to scant support for women who have children

The expectation that the Supreme Court is about to strike down decades of federal abortion-rights protections is highlighting another problem: the lack of resources and support available for women to have and raise children.

More women living in states without access to abortion, in the event that Roe v. Wade is annulled, they will probably go to term. Yet none of the two dozen states with laws on the books restricting abortion access offer paid family leave.

Eight of them opted not to expand Medicaid coverage under the health care law, which covers pregnancy through postpartum for low-income Americans.

Y Mississippiwhose abortion restriction law is at the center of an impending Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade ranks as the state with the highest rate of child poverty and low birth weight and among the highest when it comes to infant mortality rates.

Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And 13 states have “trigger laws” that would institute a ban quickly after a high court decision.

In the absence of constitutional protections, it will be up to individual states to decide the legality and access to abortion. And the states with the most restrictive policies “are also the states that do the least for pregnant people and their children,” says Sara Rosenbaum, director of the George Washington Center for Health Services Research and Policy.

Data offered in an amicus curiae brief for the Mississippi case filed on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization shows that 14 of the states with the most restrictive abortion laws “invest less in policies and programs of proven importance and value for health and wellness.” be of women, children and families”.

The report, authored by the American Public Health Association, the Guttmacher Institute, the US Policy Center and hundreds of academics and public health professionals, including Rosenbaum, cites analysis of Medicaid coverage, benefits WIC eligibility, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, early entry to prenatal care, infant mortality rate, low birth weight, child poverty, and adverse childhood experiences. It finds that most of the 14 states rank in the bottom half of states in terms of early entry into prenatal care, infant mortality, low birth weight, and children at risk.

“You would be forced to have a child regardless of your personal circumstances, you would not have the right to be able to take time off to have that child, and you would not have the support you need to go to work to support your child.” family,” Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray told CBS News. Murray has long pushed for paid federal leave and said she hopes this moment can galvanize support for a federal response, as Americans “will start to look what this really means to them, their families and their loved ones.

The United States is one of the few countries that does not offer paid maternity leave. The Family Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks off to have and care for a baby, but without pay. Only 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, offer paid family leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The expanded pandemic-era child tax credit that gave 35 million families up to $300 per month per child expired in December. Efforts to extend credit as part of the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” legislation failed to garner enough support within the president’s own party. The expiration of the tax credit gave rise to a increase in the child poverty rate.

The United States lags far behind other rich developed countries when it comes to spending on child care. According to a New York Times analysis, the US spends 0.2% of its GDP on child care for children ages 2 and under, which works out to about $200 a year for families in tax credits.

Experts say that if abortion protections are ended, minority and low-income women are likely to bear the brunt of the burden, as those with means will be more likely to travel to other states that provide access. Access to mental health support is also critical for postpartum women.

“These are questions we’re grappling with and no one knows the answer yet,” says Adrienne Griffin, executive director of the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance. She points out that mental health problems are the most common complications in pregnancy and childbirth and that suicide and overdose are the leading causes of death in women in their first year postpartum. The maternal mortality rate is three times higher among black women than among white women in the United States.

With abortion protections threatened, as the draft Supreme Court opinion leaked this week suggests, there is still no consensus on Capitol Hill for federal legislation to address some of the consequences.

“It doesn’t seem at all obvious to me that we have to expand the welfare state because of a Roe decision. That’s a separate conversation,” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told CBS News.

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has proposed a $6,000 refundable tax credit for single parents and $12,000 for married parents with qualifying children. “I think we’re going to need to have a very strong conversation about what we’re going to do to help families and help women who are in difficult circumstances,” Hawley told CBS News. “I hope that I and others will have more to say on that soon.”

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer told CBS News that she would urge the administration to implement its legislation that offers tax credits to businesses that offer paid licenses.

Republicans, however, are largely skeptical of a stronger federal response.

“There seems to be this issue going around Republicans, do they care about children after they’re born? And the answer is yes, that child is valuable. But there are a lot of programs — the safety net isn’t just the federal government. “. government. It’s the families, the churches and the nonprofits, other entities and also the government,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford told CBS News. “Obviously a lot of this is going to be in the states, because every state is going to be different on that. There’s a perception that the only way to help people is to send them a check in the mail. I don’t agree that that’s the only way.” to do it.”

Other Republicans lean toward the state-based approach. “I don’t know if it would apply at the federal level. I think, state by state, you might see a lot of people talking about benefit modifications,” South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds told CBS News. . “I really think it’s more than just saying we’re going to ban abortion. I’m pro-life, and pro-life means more than just saying no abortion. It also means trying to help people make a good choice.” And they know there are other alternatives for them who are struggling during a very difficult time in their lives.”

But a patchwork approach is worrying for Democrats. “It really worries me that there is a widening gap between the quality of life for families based on where they live,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut told CBS News. “In Connecticut, you get paid family leave, paid sick leave, abortions are legal. And then you have states with very little, if any, rights or support programs for families. I don’t think it’s good for the country to have with sets of experiences for women and families state by state.

Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed to this report.