By Valerie Huber
This post originally appeared on TownHall.
Abortion activist politicians want Americans to accept abortion as health care — not just here at home but in every country around the world, irrespective of the country’s own values and beliefs on the topic. In fact, they’re actively attempting to pass the “Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act” for just this reason.
But abortion isn’t health care, anywhere. Intentionally ending innocent lives is not — and has never been — an acceptable outcome for “health” care.
Abortion preemptively takes the lives of those who could otherwise thrive with our help. Tragically and incredulously, a common argument used by abortion activists is that every aborted child is one less child who will struggle, with their mother, against injustice, malnutrition or insufficient medical care.
But research shows that when it comes to supporting vulnerable mothers, a little goes a long way — for mother and child. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life, defined as the period between conception and toddlerhood, is crucial for establishing healthy, well-adjusted children and a critical factor to thrive into adulthood.
During my time leading the Institute for Women’s Health, I’ve seen mothers in countries around the world facing childbirth and postpartum recovery in severely under-equipped medical centers. What’s more, many often face poverty during and after childbirth.
But with the right care in their first 1,000 days, children are more likely to reach their full potential. Much of a child’s brain development occurs or is determined for the foreseeable future within this period. Lifelong emotional, motor and cognitive skills begin to emerge during the first two years of a child’s life, which prepares a child to thrive into adulthood — in all the ways that matter.
Without support for mother or child, however, these crucial growth periods become liabilities. Mothers often struggle through the developmental periods that will shape their child’s life forever with little to no help. They face medical risks themselves with few options for prevention or treatment, as well as vulnerability to a host of other risks that fall under the broad umbrella of health.
That’s part of the reason abortion is presented as an “easy” solution. Instead of working to empower women and families during these critical 1,000 days, abortion activists seem to think the solution is to eliminate the need for such support altogether.
After all, without a pregnancy advancing, there are no pregnancy risks. Without delivery, there are no complications. Without a child, there is no malnourished child. The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act explicitly notes that “[health] system cost is reduced when abortion is widely available.” Read that line again, and you’ll realize just how inhumane and morally defective the argument is.
It reduces the needy and the unborn to “health system cost.” It assumes that no nation may ever make a legitimate commitment to protect the lives of both mother and child without resorting to abortion.
We have other options to offer women, and we know they work.
Early, regular prenatal care dramatically reduces maternal and infant mortality rates. Mothers who receive adequate care during pregnancy are also less likely to abort their children — a remarkable fact, and one which refutes the notion that abortion is a universally desirable solution for women facing hardship.
Well-equipped birthing facilities and access to inexpensive drugs like antibiotics or oxytocin similarly prevent and treat potentially grave health risks. The majority of all maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhages, infections, and obstructed labor. These risks can be mitigated dramatically by adequate skilled staffing, access to lifesaving medicines, and modern hospitals and clinics that are equipped to care for mother and child — before and after birth.
As a society — as a country — we must reject the false narrative that abortion is health care. Activist politicians and organizations repeatedly claiming that it is does not make it so.
Valerie Huber is the founder and president of the Institute for Women’s Health. She previously served as the U.S. Special Representative for Global Women’s Health.