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Newsweek - Moms Are in Crisis. The GOP Wants to Keep Them There | Opinion

Published Mar 15, 2024 at 8:51 AM EDT

By Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and Co-Founder of MomsRising

The battle for mom votes broke through in our national consciousness again last week with a dystopian State of the Union response by Alabama Republican Senator Katie Britt. She centered herself in a kitchen that looked like a stage set, using her motherhood to peddle her fear-based vision of America. Rife with misinformation, Britt used words and a delivery that served to increase viewers' anxiety in an already anxiety- and despair-saturated America. A place where women's freedoms are evaporating.

It's all part of the far right's effort to capitalize on a very real thing: Many of the more than 80 million mom voters are in crisis, a crisis which studies show could be solved to a large degree by passing care infrastructure policies. Paid family and medical leave, affordable child care, accessible aging and disability care, and closing the huge gender wage gap are all needed, yet instead of reaching for solutions, Republicans are trying to weaponize despair over these issues in a grab for mom votes.

History shows us a clear culprit for the compounding pressure on moms. Due to a decades-long Republican strategy, moms have lost access to reproductive health care and medications, including abortion (6 in 10 people who need and have abortions are already moms). But it's not just about access to abortion. OB-GYNs are being pushed out of the profession when there already is a shortage, and clinics that provide services, including contraception and cancer screening are closing, creating maternal and reproductive health deserts.

This tragically successful overturning of Roe v. Wade has led to near-total abortion bans led by Republican leaders in more than a dozen states. Now, they are amping up attacks on birth control access, opposing the federal Right to Contraception Act, and naming frozen embryos children. At the top of the ticket, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, has consistently opposed access to abortion and has even called for "punishment" of people having abortions.

These moves cost lives and defy common sense. America is already the only developed country where maternal mortality is going upwith Black women dying three times as often as white women, before these added pressures. And despite the fact that 26 percent of all pregnancies normally end in miscarriage (often before people are aware they are pregnant), a mom in Ohio, Brittany Watts, was prosecuted after having a miscarriage. Thankfully, the grand jury declined to indict her.

None of these problems are insolvable, but Republican leaders are blocking highly popular solutions. In vote after vote, Republican leadership stands in the way of policies that most other industrialized nations already have in place: Paid family and medical leave after a new baby arrives or a serious health crisis strikes; affordable high-quality child care so parents can work, children can thrive, and care workers can have living wages; accessible aging and disability care; mental health care; and the full suite of reproductive health care from IVF to birth control to abortion care.

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