One of the greatest challenges that the American pro-life movement faces is what to do, if anything, after abortion is reduced or abolished on a widespread scale. What direction must the movement take? Is ending abortion an end in itself, or must we seek to abolish capital punishment, euthanasia and genuinely strive for a culture of life that requires more than solely ending infanticide? Many religious conservatives like myself have argued for the latter simply because aiming to prevent abortion, while necessary, does not exactly make it easier for society to truly respect life at all times nor make it easier for families to flourish.
On February 4, 2021, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) proposed the Family Security Act, a bill that would significantly change federal family policy and create a better financial structure for families to develop. In a press release, the senator’s office said that his bill “…would create a new national commitment to American families by modernizing antiquated federal policies into a monthly cash benefit amounting to $350 a month for each young child, and $250 a month for each school-aged child.”
A married couple with one 4-year old child that qualifies for the program would receive $4,200 a year, and a married couple with one 12-year old child would receive $3,000 a year. There is some cap on income levels and family sizes, but generally, the bill strives to alter the existing, “outdated” system that unfairly discriminates against large families.
Romney stated that the bill would immediately lift millions of families out of poverty. Reducing child poverty is one of the key aims for this bill, along with promoting marriage, supporting families from conception into their childhood, showing the government’s affirmation of married couples, helping stay-at-home parents and working parents, and modernizing and reforming the federal government’s programs to help families.
Why is reforming family policy necessary in 2021, and why should the federal government be involved?
Currently, marriage rates are terribly low in the United States. In 2018, the marriage rate was 6.5 per 1,000 people; this has been considerably declining since the 1970s when the rate was between 10 and 11 per 1,000 people. The 1950s were great years for marriages and families, but these undertakings have become less important to people over time. This can be attributed to cultural movements like the sexual revolution, of course, but financial reasons are extremely important as well. This financial cause was also evident in declining marriage rates during the Great Depression.
Fertility rates have also been declining. Once again, social and cultural factors are important to address this issue, but financial restraints and the increasing costs of raising even just one child cannot be ignored. It’s not that people don’t want kids, but when it costs around $13,000 a year to raise one child, it is tragically difficult for young, newly-wed couples to have kids.
The policy is not the final cure for the crisis facing families and marriages. Like many, if not all, issues apparent in society, the right solutions should be a combination of public institutions, private institutions, and the state of our culture. But the federal government has a role in affirming our culture and assisting families who cannot afford to raise their children in decent conditions. There is no excuse for a well-developed society to have widespread child poverty, and private institutions have not sufficiently solved this problem.
This bill, if passed, would be important for the conservative movement if we hope to make it easier to start families and reduce the number of abortions. Families that want three to four kids may finally see their dreams actualized, which is important in creating a culture of life. It would be a mistake for conservatives to ignore these calls to reform family policy and assist families, especially during this pandemic and its attached financial hardships. Eliminating child poverty and allowing families to focus on raising their children is incredibly important if the GOP wishes to be a party for the middle-class. Even the Democrats, who also favor the reduction of poverty, should be supportive of Romney’s proposals. This is one step in the right direction for a genuinely pro-life culture.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.