Budgets declare values. We spend money on the things we love.
So when South Dakota fetus-fetishists shout, “I want more babies, more babies, we love babies!” they’ll put their money where their mouth is and support babies and their parents with ample public goods and services, right?
Of course not. South Dakota fits the trend of abortion-banning states shorting children and parents in their budgets while states that affirm reproductive rights also go the extra mile to support moms and their progeny. South Dakota and other states that claim to love babies but really just hate women don’t provide child tax credits:
None of the 17 states forcing childbirth have refundable child tax credits (CTCs), a policy that helps families pay for a small share of the enormous costs of raising kids. Eleven pro-choice states will have these refundable child tax credits in 2024 – California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Idaho and Oklahoma, which restrict abortion rights, and Utah, which protects abortion rights, offer nonrefundable credits which are helpful to many but leave out the poorest families. State child tax credits vary in size but are now larger than they’ve ever been with seven states offering refundable credits of more than $1,000 per child (Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont). The nation’s highest credit, $1,750 per child, is in Minnesota [Amy Hanauer, “Abortion-Restricting States Skimp on Funding for Children,” Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2023.11.09].
South Dakota and the anti-abortion states tend to spend less on education and other services for children than mom-loving states:
All but two of the abortion-banning states rank in the bottom half on education funding per child – the exceptions are North Dakota (18) and Wisconsin (26 among 51 states, counting D.C. as a state). Five of the 10 states spending the least on education in 2021 are among the states that will now severely restrict reproductive rights. All states spending in the top 10 per pupil on public K-12 education are pro-choice states.
All but two of the states forcing childbirth also score in the bottom half in an assessment of spending on poor children published by the American Association of Pediatrics that examines cash assistance, housing aid, EITC, child care, and medical assistance between 2011 and 2017. The abortion-restrictive states comprise eight of the 10 stingiest among the rankings. All the top 10 states for such spending protect abortion rights. The study found that states that spend more on these combined benefits had fewer substantiated cases of child abuse, lower rates of foster care placement, and fewer childhood deaths due to abuse [Hanauer, 2023.11.09].
And while South Dakota’s minimum wage is pretty good, abortion-banning states tend to have weak wage and parental leave policies to help parents raise those beloved children:
In addition to doing less through public spending to improve the lives of families with children, abortion-restrictive states do less through labor law to make it possible for working people to take care of children. Not one of the abortion-banning states require employers to provide paid parental leave, something now on the books in 14 pro-choice states (including D.C.). This means that after forcing someone to remain pregnant and have a baby, these states would not ensure any paid time off to recover from birth or care for the new baby.
Abortion-restrictive states also do less to ensure that workers earn better wages. Thirteen of the 20 states whose minimum wage is at or below the federal level are on the abortion-banning list. All 15 of the states with minimum wages above $12.00 an hour in 2023 are pro-choice [Hanauer, 2023.11.09].
You don’t demonstrate your love for babies and their parents by standing on street corners stroking fetus dolls and harassing people who are seeking a public vote on abortion rights. You demonstrate your love for babies and moms and dads by funding robust social safety nets to keep families strong and healthy. Minnesota and other states show us that they can be both pro-choice and pro-life, while South Dakota and other anti-abortion states’ stingy budgets show us that they are neither.