Recently I watched Martha Raddatz interview the governor of South Dakota, a state which has now effectively banned abortion. The governor claimed that her state planned to ramp up services for women with unwanted pregnancies (presumably so that they will all want to have and care for their children and all will be wonderful in the great state of South Dakota). When Raddatz pointed out that South Dakota ranks among the least supportive states when it comes to financing family services, the governor said they are calling on non profits and churches to pick up the slack.
Just what a woman with an unwanted pregnancy needs: To be stigmatized by a church! Folks, we are not living in the days of Little House on the Prairie when the townsfolk are all charitable and kind and all the children are raised equally in a loving community. (Not that those days ever existed, except in some writer’s imagination.) Here is the real story of my great aunt Mary Ness whose unwanted pregnancy at the age of fourteen made her an outcast from a small farming community in the Dakotas. Her story is the reality of the situation. Unmarried pregnant women and girls are often outcasts in their communities. Often seen at fault for their condition. Often made to feel shame for not wanting to be mothers. And what do you suppose happens to many of their stigmatized children? Adopted by the non-profits? Welcomed into the churches?
For anyone who has worked with children in foster care, hearing this kind of idiocy from an elected official is nauseating. It doesn’t matter how many perks they get, there’s only one thing a foster child wants: not to be a “ward of the state.” Thus their high rates of suicide, mental illness, drug dependency and incarceration. I’ve spent time in Dependency Court and the laws of most states favor family reunification. If a child has any relative willing to take care of them, the state would rather “reunite” the family than make it easy for a loving foster parent to adopt them. Often those relatives only show up if promised a salary for being “kinship caretakers.” And, let me tell you, they rarely spend any part of their salary on those children.
It’s a tragic mess that will only be made worse by this sort of unimaginably heartless and uninformed rhetoric.