FRITSCH: ‘Walking with Moms in Need’ helps moms in crisis
June 9, 2020
In June, the Archdiocese begins the year-long campaign “Walking with Moms in Need.” This national initiative will assist our parish communities in learning about the help currently available for pregnant and parenting mothers and determining new ways of reaching out and providing assistance.
Particularly since Roe v. Wade in 1973, many efforts to build a Culture of Life have focused almost exclusively on the problem of abortion, including meeting the immediate material and emotional needs of pregnant women in the hope they will not view abortion as a necessary response to an unplanned pregnancy. Such a focus is both laudable and necessary.
A potential area of growth in our outreach is a recognition of social constructs, which initially appear unrelated to abortion, that discourage openness to new life and result in a devaluing of motherhood, children and family (and which can make abortion seem a viable alternative).
The Walking with Moms initiative is designed to support and grow the efforts already in place and help us evaluate, recognize and address a broader scope of need, focusing on all issues which preclude a Culture of Life.
A few examples will serve to illuminate the issue. In 2014, I met Beth, a resident in a Catholic Charities’ housing program where she lived with her infant son, Kevin.
Due to a DUI conviction, Beth owed substantial court fines that she was struggling to repay. Beth worked at a fast-food restaurant but could not work full-time because she relied on public transportation (having lost her driver’s license after the DUI).
Because of the inefficiency of bus service in her area, Beth spent four hours daily in transit between her son’s daycare, her work and her Catholic Charities residence (with a car, transit time would have taken around one hour). Beth needed to work full-time both to pay off her court fines and to obtain health insurance. She had suffered a painful rotator cuff tear but could not afford the needed surgery without insurance.
When Beth was finally able to pay the substantial fees to reinstate her license, she began working full-time. Her employer then advised that she was not eligible for health insurance because of her DUI conviction.
While her employer’s conduct was blatantly illegal, the employer knew that Beth, a single parent, living in a housing program, with substantial court fines to repay, could not afford to quit the job or to engage in the legal processes necessary to counter her employer’s behavior. Beth remained in the job, without health insurance and without the surgery needed to fix her shoulder.
I also worked with Jessica, a high-performing manager at a manufacturing corporation. During Jessica’s second maternity leave in three years, the company CEO remarked to other employees, “I never thought I’d have to ask if birth control should be mandatory for female managers or not.” When Jessica returned to work following leave, she was told her position was being eliminated.
Before her final termination, Jessica was tasked with training a male employee who, although given a different job title, had duties largely identical to her own.
Jessica had been the primary breadwinner of her family. Despite her qualifications, she had difficulty being rehired due to her high level of experience; many employers found her overqualified for their open positions. Jessica was without income for more than two years and experienced significant financial and marital hardships as a result.
Neither Beth nor Jessica considered abortion during their pregnancies nor would either have considered herself in a “crisis” pregnancy. Yet Beth’s and Jessica’s experiences, like those of many other women, likely made them more hesitant to be open to life in the future, and more likely to choose abortion or to consider a future pregnancy a “crisis” event. It may be that our current focus on crisis pregnancy situations – which is essential – does not address the full range of struggles faced by pregnant and parenting women.
This year’s Walking with Moms in Need initiative gives us an opportunity, at a parish and Archdiocesan level, for real discernment. What needs are being appropriately addressed? What needs and concerns may have been overlooked? Are there gaps in our communities in accompanying women facing a lack of support as mothers? Walking with Moms gives us the opportunity to expand our thinking and to build upon what is currently being done to fully promote a Culture of Life. We invite you to join us.
For more information or to get started on Walking with Moms in Need in your parish community, contact the Office of Pro-Life Activities at 713-741-8728 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Fritsch is the director of the Office of Pro-Life Ministries.