To the Editor,

It’s time for the pro-life movement to choose life after birth.

Now that abortion is no longer legal in Tennessee, it’s time for the pro-life movement to stand up for life after birth. It’s time, as the saying goes, to put your money where your mouth is. The medical costs associated with pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period should be free, as it is in Canada, the U.K., and very low cost in many other places in the developed world. The average cost for childbirth in the U.S. is $13,000 for an uncomplicated delivery. C-sections average over $22,000. With the striking down of Roe [v. Wade], many more complicated deliveries with babies requiring extensive post-natal medical care will result in costs of $100,000 and much more. The least pro-life folks can do is advocate for free care if women are forced to have babies.

The United States has the highest incidence of maternal mortality in the developed world. And while Tennessee isn’t in the top 10 highest, we are 11th in maternal mortality. We are 14th in infant mortality. Our sister states to the south are worse. This is horrifying, humiliating. The statistics for black and brown women and babies are even worse. Black and brown women are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. According to the Tennessee Department of Public Health, 89 percent of these deaths were preventable for the years 2017-20. With the increased numbers of unwanted pregnancies and unwanted babies, deaths and long-term poor outcomes will increase. There is no doubt that free prenatal care, free birth and postpartum care for one year as well as paid parental leave, Medicaid and Medicare expansion, mental health support, breastfeeding support and drug treatment would decrease maternal and infant mortality.

So, pro-life movement, pro-life legislators, pro-life politicians, pro-life mayors, pro-life churches, pro-life governor — step up, stand up, make these changes TODAY. Policy changes, law changes, not just charity; diapers and a car seat. Show you are really pro-life, not “fake” pro-life. I don’t want to hear “it’s too expensive.” It’s owed, it’s required, it’s the least you can do.

We’ll be watching. Later, we’ll talk about life after babyhood and your responsibilities there.

Debra McManus

2549 Charlie Thomas Road, Cornersville, TN 37047

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