Tuesday, February 10, 2009

... the "RIGHT" to bear children (part 2): What about the rights of the child?

In yesterday's comments, Marcy wrote:
I often hear pro-lifers say that abortion is wrong b/c the child shouldn't have to pay for the mistakes of the parents, and that the parents (well, usually the mother b/c dad's gone, he doesn't have to do anything) need to "face the consequences for their actions." Yeah, well, a child should NEVER be a "consequence." It is a living, breathing being that will internalize how it is treated, and making him grow up in a home with parents that don't know what they're doing and who will neglect or even abuse him is so twisted it begs the question of what kind of a respect they truly have for "life" at all. Apparently quality has nothing to do with it.
Once again proving great minds think alike, as this was, pretty much, today's blog topic.

The pro-life/anti-reproductive rights side makes such a fuss about "the child" and "the baby" when it's inside the uterus... but what about once it comes out? (We all know Republicans/conservatives/the right are, generally as a group, opposed to A) comprehensive sex ed, B) access to birth control, and C) abortion; interestingly enough, they are also against providing social services to people -- including mothers and their children -- in need. So how exactly does that math work out?)

The idea that a woman should not have an abortion because she needs to face the consequences of her actions is flawed on many levels.

1) Two people did the deed. One of the two parties can walk away at any time (and generally does) unscathed, consequence-less.

2) The person who receives the brunt of the punishment is innocent of any "crime." That child never asked to be born, and never asked to be born to parents who didn't want it. How dare you condemn a child to that kind of life?

Pregnancy should never be a punishment. I don't know what kind of sick and twisted mindset someone would have to have to think that. Especially when the one person truly being punished is the one whose rights you seem so keen to champion.

Maybe some people have lived such sheltered, charmed lives that they truly do not understand what birthing an unwanted child entails for the child. For many of us, life is good. It is a wonderful life. But not for all of us.

Maybe you need to spend some time outside your white picket fence, and find out what happens to these children once they exit the uterus. Come see what I've seen (and I know what I've seen is very limited).

One of the women in One in 3 was a mother who already had four or five children at home (I can't remember the details). As she filled out the paperwork, the stage grew dark and a spotlight singled her out. On the screen behind her, we saw a sonogram, and she looked down at her abdomen and spoke to the potential child. I wish I had the text of her monologue, because (as was the rest of the play) it was brilliant. It explained this very point (remember, the playwrights interviewed several women about their experiences in order to write the play -- these are real women's words and experiences, not something flowery and propaganda-y they pulled out of their vaginas).

The mother explained to the embryo that terminating the pregnancy was the best thing she could do for it -- the potential child did not deserve the life it would be born into. "There's not enough food, not enough love to go around." This was the only way for the potential child to escape a life that was not good enough for it. "Or you'll grow up to be like him... and I can't allow that. That's why I have to do this."

This is where the anti-reproductive rights side will cry, "Adoption! Adoption!" as if it were duct tape or WD-40. Well, it isn't. For many reasons. But in this situation (I'll get to the others later): there's a father in the picture. The mother may have been willing to carry the pregnancy to term to give the child up for adoption, but would the father allow it? Would he let her do it? Or would he get mad at her for being pregnant -- again* -- and would he beat her? Or would he beat her for some other reason, harming the potential child and causing even more health hazards to the mother? There are too many layers, to many what-ifs... there is no easy solution, which is why we want to keep a variety of options open.

I can't speak for the whole movement, but I know at least for me (and Marcy), one of the reasons why I fight for a woman's right to choose is for the sake of that potential child. This issue doesn't end in the ninth month of pregnancy, because at the end of that ninth month you now have a human being -- an undeniable, unequivocal human being. Let's think about that human being when we talk about all this.

*Freddy just shared with me a story from his bygone days as a bartender, when one of the cooks came in complaining that his wife was pregnant again, saying, "I told her I didn't want any more kids!" he yelled... see? We're not making this stuff up! (Oh, and this guy was an alcoholic. So, you're telling me God wants another child to be born into this household?)

1 comment:

  1. You raise very good points.

    Along with the economic consequences hefted on single, low-income mothers and their children is the heaping dose of disdain a lot of pro-life/anti-abortion/anti-reproductive rights people seem to feel necessary to throw at those who have children (or are children) out of wedlock. Apparently we're all damned if we do and damned if we don't. Literally.

    Actually a great deal of what I want to say to people who are so vehemently against reproductive freedom can be summed up thus: you can't have it both ways.

    I'm officially hooked on this issue series of yours. :-)