The Hypocrisy of a Post-Roe Mother’s Day

A rally outside Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas on June 24, 2022, to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Ronda Churchill / AFP via Getty Images)

This Mother’s Day—like the countless that have come before it—conservative politicians who fancy themselves members of the party that upholds “family values” will send out social media posts praising the moms among us. They’ll wax poetic about the “decision” to become a mother and how it’s the “most selfless, most important job in the world.” Some may even go so far as to task their speech writers with crafting some moving message about how vital mothers are; how we’re raising the next generation of prolific thinkers and world leaders; how we should be revered “not just today, but every day.” 

And in the post-Roe world they created with their anti-abortion policies that have forced people into motherhood, attacked IVF and fertility treatments, and left doctors terrified to treat pregnant patients to the point that women are slipping into comas, miscarrying in hospital lobby bathrooms and enduring unnecessary C-sections instead of receiving common abortion care, it will all be one big, giant pile of bullshit.

I have never been what anyone could consider a “fan” of Mother’s Day. Even as a child raised by a very involved mother who loves me, the holiday felt shallow and fraudulent. At a young age, I would watch my toxic (at best) father buy my mother a necklace one year, a bracelet the next, and purchase a generic card meant to bring her to tears that days later would sit at the bottom of a trash can. Meanwhile, nearly every other day of the week my father would spend his time complaining about what she cooked, how she cleaned, how “little” she was contributing to the family’s finances and how his children were being raised—surprise, surprise—without his help. 

Choosing to become a parent didn’t change my attitude towards the holiday, either. Don’t get me wrong—I cherish my son’s handmade cards and questionably home-cooked breakfasts, usually served in bed with a sloppy kiss and a coveted squeeze-hug. I’ll agree to an overpriced brunch or a fancy dinner every now and then, seated in a crowded restaurant alongside other families hellbent on singing their matriarch’s praises one round of mimosas at a time. 

But it’s all a societal forgery—an empty exercise the majority of us have all inexplicably agreed to engage in while simultaneously overlooking the many ways the U.S. continually chooses to fail mothers. In a country that has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world, abhorrently overpriced and scarce access to childcare, a growing maternal mental health crisis, and no mandatory paid maternity leave, it’s clear that society does not “adore” mothers—it punishes them.

This was undoubtedly true prior to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. This country’s nefarious history of attacking low-income mothers—especially Black, brown and Indigenous moms—who rely on food stamps, WIC and other social services speaks for itself. To this day, conservative lawmakers who fancy themselves the bastions of the “nuclear family” have torpedoed the child tax credit, eliminated universal school lunch, and focused their efforts on eroding child labor laws—none of which benefit mothers and the children they’re trying to raise. 

It’s all a societal forgery—an empty exercise the majority of us have all inexplicably agreed to engage in while simultaneously overlooking the many ways the U.S. continually chooses to fail mothers.

Even with the constitutional right to bodily autonomy and the decision to decide if, when and how to start or expand our families (always afforded to some, and not all), mothers were overworked, undersupported and burnt out. Despite more moms entering the workforce than ever before, mothers continue to shoulder the majority of childcare and household responsibilities. Moms are paid 61 cents for every dollar a father makes and men are twice as likely to be promoted for having children than women. In a number of states, a woman seeking a divorce cannot end her marriage if she is pregnant—the leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide at the hands of an intimate partner or family member.

So for many, Mother’s Day has always felt like a farce, and it shows: One 2021 poll conducted by Yahoo and YouGov found that one-third of moms were not going to mark Mother’s Day in any way. Those who do decide to celebrate Mother’s Day most often report wanting to do so alone.

Since the Dobbs decision, however, the hypocrisy has hit a fever pitch. As the media hyper-focuses on the harm abortion bans cause people with wanted pregnancies, voters who may not have considered abortion to be a “kitchen table issue” are bearing witness to just how quintessential abortion is to family planning, and just how anti-family and anti-mom anti-abortion policies truly are. 

A recent report from the University of California San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), titled “Care Post-Roe: Documenting cases of poor-quality care since the Dobbs decision,” highlights a wide-range of harm pregnant people are enduring as a direct result of near-total abortion bans, including an increase in morbidity, pregnancy complications, serious impairment and near-death experiences. 

In the report, one physician describe a situation in which they thought lending “a helping hand to a patient getting onto the gurney while in the throes of a miscarriage could be construed as ‘aiding and abetting an abortion.’” Another physician detailed an instance in which a pharmacy “refused to fill the medication” to treat a missed miscarriage “until they had confirmation of its use, but was unable to list what that confirmation needed to include.” As a result, the patient’s care was delayed, putting them at risk for severe infection.

In Idaho, abortion bans are forcing pregnant patients to seek emergency air transport to neighboring states. Recently, the Supreme Court argued just how many organs a woman has to lose before she can legally obtain abortion care.

On Mother’s Day, the decision to become a mother is touted as just that: a decision. Those of us who have procreated are celebrated for choosing to become a parent. Yet for millions of people with the capacity to get pregnant in this country it is no longer a choice—it’s a government mandate. And if you are privileged enough for motherhood to remain a choice, you’re punished for it—terrified reproductive healthcare doctors are afraid to treat you; government officials refuse to pass policies that adequately support you; managers think long and hard before hiring you; employers will refuse to adequately pay you. 

Sadly, I don’t think the mindset I have held since I was a child will change anytime soon, either. I love being a mother, but I hate how this country treats mothers. 

I abhor the politicians championing a potential nationwide abortion ban, that one study out of the University of Colorado estimates will increase U.S. maternal deaths by 24 percent, and 39 percent for Black patients. 

I despise the Republicans who offer up our faux praises while making it harder to become a parent safely and raise children adequately at every legislative turn. 

And I detest those copy-and-paste social media posts praising the moms among us, when it’s so very clear this country hates moms most of all.

Up next:

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.


Danielle Campoamor is a former NBC and TODAY reporter and award-winning freelance writer and editor published in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, New York Magazine's The Cut, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, Marie Claire, Vogue, Vanity Fair and more. She covers a wide variety of topics, including reproductive justice and abortion care, gun violence, mental health, gender-based violence, climate change and more. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband and two feral sons.