What would a post-Roe California look like?

That depends on our innovation

By Molly Sheahan

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dec. 1 on a major abortion case that could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by next summer. If the court rules to overturn Roe, 26 states would instantly ban abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It deals with the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law, the “Gestational Age Act,” that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies and in cases of “severe fetal abnormality.”

For California, the Guttmacher Institute predicts a 3,000 percent increase in out-of-state women seeking abortions. Planned Parenthood and the California Future of Abortion Council want the state to be an abortion hub, even providing hotels, transportation and childcare for abortion-minded women. This bleak vision makes our state a blighted pilgrimage site for abortion. Is this really the future we want?

Low-income women are far and away more prolife than their wealthy counterparts. These moms want to welcome their children into the world. How can we as a state address their real needs and desires?

On the public level, the state can prioritize budget funding, including the tremendous $31 billion surplus, to support pregnant women, moms with small kids, and low-income families. This means zeroing in on housing homeless pregnant women and women with children, building more low-income housing units to fill the gaps, and helping families purchase homes to build generational wealth. It means helping a mom keep the money in her pocket through Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), child tax credits, expanding paid leave, and other supports for working families.

On the local level, it means ensuring our pregnancy centers can help a mom know her rights for keeping her job, receiving paid leave, and earning her education. It means helping her sign up for nutrition assistance, MediCal and insurance benefits, and government assistance. It means all this in addition to the diapers, baby items, parenting classes, and amazing material and emotional support our pregnancy centers provide.

At the parish level, it means organizing MealTrains, childcare, and creative ways to help moms in the community. It also looks like providing a listening ear when a mom calls the parish office, followed by a warm handoff to the Gabriel Project or local supports for pregnant and parenting moms.

Let’s be real. Abortion will always be easier in the short term than carrying a child for 9 months, and then raising that child for the next 18 years and beyond. But pushing abortion appeals only to the throwaway culture that sees mother and child as irresponsible and easily discarded. It ends the life of a child, wounds the mother, and does nothing to alleviate the root cause of her struggle – whether pain or poverty, homelessness or violence.

California dreamin’ calls for bigger imaginations. The prolife vision is a holistic, global approach worthy of the fifth largest economy, of Silicon Valley and of Hollywood. In a post-Roe world, the Golden State has a golden opportunity to truly support the strong mamas in our state. Let’s get to work.

Sheahan is the California Catholic Conference associate director for respect life.