Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Compassion and Choice

I'm going to be charitable and assume that the pro-life stance is not just primarily about protecting children, but is solely about protecting children. Let's take away all those debates about economic and social parity between men and women. Let's take away all the questioning of heteronormative gender roles and Christonormative social norms, and the adoption system that reinforces them.

Let's talk about protecting children.

Currently in America there are 500,000 children in foster care, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

On any given night in America, over a million children are homeless. Being homeless doesn't just mean no shelter, compromised hygeine, and no guarantee of safety. It also means a staggering rate of mental illness and compromised educational opportunity, according to the National Mental Health Association.

Every day, worldwide, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes according to The Lancet.

About 20 million children are homeless and over 2 million are dead because of armed conflicts worldwide in the last decade, this according to UNICEF.

This is why, if I ever raise children, I feel a strong moral imperative to adopt. This is why, if I ever call a young person my son or daughter I do not plan for them to be of my own blood.

This is why, if I become pregnant, I will do my damndest to have an abortion. Y'know why? Because if I'm going to pour resources into a child, I can think of children who need it a lot more than the one I'd be producing.

Stop telling me I hate children. That I'm a babykiller. That I'm a destroyer of families, a reaver of responsible moral values. I intend to have an abortion to stop the introduction of more children into a world that's got enough needy children already. You want to turn every single abortion discussion into an appeal to emotion? You really want to go that low?

I can play that game, too.

I think every single person who deliberately conceives children of their own instead of taking in a child in need (and they're all around us, guys) is being self-serving and short-sighted. I do. I think these people are allowing themselves to be complicit in a system where the only children that are recognized as needing safety, food, and love are one's own, where the children we value most are still aspirin-sized parasites, while real living, breathing, thinking, feeling, suffering children are left to their plights because millions of parents who could be doing something for them are creating more and more children instead.

Every time I'm slurred as a babyhating militant women's libber out to destroy families I have bitten my tongue when it comes to this particular argument because I didn't want to come out and say it. But now I will.

You say I'm devaluing the lives of children by planning to have an abortion should I become pregnant. I say that pro-lifers are devaluing the lives of children by sanctifying a fetus above a needy child who quite simply to them matters less.

I use two forms of protection and am still considering more permanent sterilization options (that, let's face it, are expensive and invasive for women). But you can bet that if I become pregnant despite that, I will have an abortion. Without hesitation. Without guilt. Without permission.

And I'll be thinking of you. I'll remind myself how glad I am that "pro-lifers" and their lust for forced birthing don't get to force me to make the wrong choice, to make a choice that I believe will be exacerbating a global child welfare disaster that could easily be fixed if more people cared for existing children as much as they cared for a smear of cells less distinct from my own body than the normal flora in my gut.

I'll be wondering why the hell more women aren't right here with me, putting live children first.

So don't rail at me about protecting children like it's never occurred to me that they need it. I am a thinking, discerning, moral human being, and thinking, discerning, moral human beings are able and obligated to decide for themselves how best to serve the world in their time here. We are able and obligated to choose. I choose contraception and abortion, as many times as I want them. I choose adoption, every time I want a child.

That's my choice. Why should you get a veto? Why should the moral choice of this woman be worth so little, and dismissed so easily? I'm pro-choice, and we believe in morality, too.

If given a choice (and I will demand one), there is a direct moral conflict for me between bearing a child of my own blood and caring for suffering children who are already here. When in conflict (and I've stated that it always will be), my obligation will be to these living children first. Why are all these living children less important to "pro-lifers" than the children I may abort? Why do they want women like me to be forced to bear children, when I know in my heart that children worldwide are better served if I avoid breeding at all costs?

Call it the Bob Barker school of child welfare. Spay and neuter yourselves. Adopt a child in need.

To clarify: I'm not demanding that all people have enforced abortions until there are no more needy children. I can understand people choosing personally that, when they get pregnant, they're not comfortable getting an abortion. Oopsie babies happen, and I know not everyone can be as cavalier about it as I am.

What I can't excuse morally even if I understand it emotionally is deliberately creating more children when you know that there are already kids out there who need you. Resources are limited, and you can't take care of every kid. But I believe it is wrong to deliberately create a new child instead of adopting. Not everyone has to make that choice, but it is a moral choice I have made, and not mere selfishness as it gets portrayed by anti-choicers.

If all we're going to talk about is compassion for children, I think it shows a lack of compassion for children to deliberately breed more instead of caring for the ones who need care.


The Dictatress said...

Christonormative social norms. *Pain*

Cobalt said...

Is that pain from the repetitive word choice, or from my merciless embourgeoisiement of my journal through the addition of abusive (post?)feminist anthropological jargon?