To: Senate Appropriations Committee
From: Christopher Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: Section 8 of House Bill 1003 — Support for Single Mothers
Date: April 4, 2023
The North Dakota Catholic Conference wishes to express its support for Section 8 of House 1003.
For years, our office has collected data from the Department of Health on pregnancy and abortion in North Dakota. Several facts drawn from this information demonstrate why helping unmarried pregnant women and mothers obtain higher education is so important. Here is what we know:
- About 833 North Dakota women received abortions annually in the years prior to the Dobbs decision. Contrary to what many may think, only 2% were minors.
- 68% were between 18 and 29 years of age.
- 33% were between 20 and 25 years of age.
- 82% had graduated high school.
- 53% had some college education or were attending college.
- 82% were unmarried.
- 61% already had a child.
Combining this information, we can say that the typical North Dakota woman who had an abortion was:
- In her 20s;
- Graduated high school and probably attends college; and
- Has children.
Not surprisingly, this data mirrors the state’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy statistics.
In short, the program in Section 8 of HB 1003 would help the very same women who are most likely to be faced with the decision as to whether to have an abortion.
Women experiencing unexpected pregnancies face many difficult decisions. Many are pressured to accept the false dichotomy that they must either quit college or have an abortion. Giving the state’s colleges and universities an opportunity to develop programs to help these women, whether they have had a child or have an unexpected pregnancy, will help break this false dichotomy.
In addition, such programs will give both the mothers and their children a more solid foundation for their futures. Children in single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty. College education for the parent is one of the factors most likely to change that trajectory.
Whether or not abortion is prohibited in North Dakota, we know that the women who could be helped by Section 8 are among the same women who most need our help so that they do not feel that abortion or college, but not both, are their only choices.
We ask for your support for Section 8 of House Bill 1003.
What We Do
The North Dakota Catholic Conference acts on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine.