Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson went on CNN Sunday to defend his decision last year to sign a near-total ban on abortion with exceptions limited to medical emergencies that jeopardize the life of the mother.
“I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” Hutchinson said last year, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that he now wants the law revisited to include exceptions for rape and incest after a similar law in Mississippi provoked the challenge instead.
“Those are two exceptions I have recognized, I believe are very appropriate,” the governor explained. “And what will happen as time goes on, if Roe v. Wade is reversed, these are going to become very real circumstances.”
Bash, however, took issue with the uncertain prospects of caring for more children altogether in a state ranked 48th in child poverty.
Bash warned that “Arkansas already struggles to support vulnerable children” who, judging by the question, she apparently thinks might be better off dead. “Nearly 1 in 4 children in Arkansas lives in poverty. More than 4,600 kids are already in your state’s overloaded foster care system. Do you really think that your state is prepared to protect and care for even more children if abortion does become illegal there?”
Hutchinson acknowledged his state’s “historic challenges with poverty” while touting the expansion of Medicaid and foster programs to enhance childcare.
“It’s been a high priority,” the governor said. “Obviously there’s always opportunity to do more. And we have to address this issue with compassion because of the difficult circumstances and the fact that you’re dealing with most vulnerable populations.”
The governor’s brief remarks failed to push back on the premise of the question, however, that children in poverty could have avoided their circumstances had impoverished mothers opted to forgo the gift of life to begin with.
Cautionary tales of extreme poverty have become a signature argument of the pro-abortion lobby under the same logic that justifies pregnancy termination for children expected to have genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. Bash ought to ask a child with Down syndrome whether he or she would have rather been aborted. The answer would certainly be no.
While their explicit reasons for doing so are grotesque, leftists aren’t entirely wrong in pointing out high levels of child poverty preceding a post-Roe baby boom. It’s true that a vast number of women who pursue the deadly procedure are themselves below the federal poverty line, and kids are more expensive than ever. Toss runaway inflation into the mix when child poverty is already on the rise, and it’s conceivable millions of children will be born into less than preferable circumstances. But to suggest a child born into poverty is worse than no child born at all not only dismisses the sanctity of life and insults every individual with a rags-to-riches story, but it also ignores efforts among pro-life activists to enhance the affordability of childcare or life-saving alternatives like adoption.
Pro-life policymakers can and should be preparing for a post-Roe America with substantive solutions on childcare, especially as the nation’s population grows at its slowest pace since the Declaration of Independence was written. America needs more babies, and Republicans such as Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley are already working on ways to make childcare more affordable so that abortion, which will remain legal in states such as California even after Roe is gone, is no longer viewed as an attractive financial incentive.