Affordable child care key component of post-Roe response, advocates say

Mothers are pictured in this file photo at a Silver Spring, Md home. Activists at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Jan. 30, 2023 discussed how to be pro-woman, pro-worker and pro-family. (OSV News Photo/CNS file by Bob Roller)

By Kate Scanlon

WASHINGTON — Affordable child care must be a core component of a post-Roe response from the Church, advocates at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering said on Jan. 30.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022 overturned the court’s previous abortion-related precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A panel at the conference titled “Pro-Worker, Pro-Woman, Pro-Family: Advocating for Policies that Build a Truly Pro-Life Society,” explored how the church could respond to the decision in a holistic way.

The speakers frequently referenced the U.S. bishops’ post-Roe call for “radical solidarity” with both mothers and the unborn, citing a letter they sent to Congress laying out their priority items including the implementation of the expanded child tax credit and paid parental leave.

In that letter, the bishops wrote, “Ultimately, we call for what Saint John Paul II described as ‘radical solidarity’ with mothers, babies (born and preborn) and families throughout each person’s entire lifespan. This is ‘a call to friendship and compassion rooted in the truth that we are made to love our neighbor as ourselves.’ ”

Ingrid Delgado, a policy adviser for the Office of Domestic Social Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the initiatives the bishops outlined in the letter “aren’t new.”

“The bishops in the Catholic Church have been doing these things and advocating on these issues for decades,” Delgado said. “What is new in the post-Dobbs environment is that it could be this really unique opportunity to work in a bipartisan way on these different issues. And we’re starting to see that.”

Delgado cited the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and and the PUMP Act, both implementing additional protections for pregnant or nursing mothers in the workplace, and both advocated for by the U.S. bishops.

During a question and answer session at the conclusion of the panel, many attendees asked about affordable child care as a component of a pro-life response.

“You can’t have working moms if moms can’t afford to go to work,” one participant noted.

Delgado said that quality child care should be a key part of the church’s pro-life work after Roe.

“Childcare is part of it, right, access to quality and affordable child care,” she said.

The bishops expressed support for it as a concept, Delgado said, while specific efforts are still being debated. But she expressed optimism that it could be a “bipartisan effort.”

“There are some kind of wonky, maybe disagreements about policy rules, about how to fund that, and what that means for religious liberty for example, for faith-based providers and things like that, but as a concept, they absolutely support it,” she said.

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