The recent Alabama legislation, with the strictest abortion laws to date, has sliced my moral compass into dueling pieces. As a new mother, I do believe in the life of embryos. Two years ago at two months pregnant, I became infatuated by the miracle inside of me. Her first heartbeat sent me to the moon (and back). I delighted in each tummy kick when I whispered her secret name. I marveled at her tenacity even then.
My now 19 month old has taken complete control of my heart and I love her more than I thought possible. “It’s like finally seeing the world in 3D after living a 2D life,” said a good friend and father.
“Mom,” I confessed to my liberal mother. “Sometimes I understand where pro-lifers are coming from...”
I feel a few people have gotten abortions carelessly, not thinking them through or having any regard for the little person growing inside of them. This devastates me. There are others that see it as “last resort birth control”, not having had the proper sexual education or contraception availability to prevent pregnancy. I don’t think abortion should be taken lightly. Yet I also know most women seeking it wouldn’t be able to love or take care of a child as many “pro-lifers” assume. Most women seeking abortion don’t feel they have any other choice.
I come from an advantaged situation. Even though my pregnancy came as a surprise-I wanted my baby. Even in my tiny San Francisco apartment, I felt ready and financially comfortable. I wasn’t married but had a loving partner and extended family support network. We had jobs with health insurance. We could afford birthing classes. Our paychecks could even stretch to cover childcare. We were confident we would figure all this baby stuff out and provide a wonderful future. My own mother was overjoyed to be a Nana to a little girl.
Many pregnant mothers don’t have my situation. They cannot properly care for the baby or themselves. They are poor. They are young. They are scared. They are addicts. They are mentally ill. They are unsupported. They are uninsured. They are uneducated. They are not ready. For whatever reason, they are just not fit for the 18 year job.
“Adoption!” shout the pro-lifers. “Give the baby to all the parents out there that want it!”
Adoption doesn’t always happen or last. On any given day, there are nearly 443,000 children in foster care in the United States. Plus a healthy adoption requires a healthy pregnancy.
What if the mother cannot get proper prenatal care? What if the pregnancy causes them to lose their one or many jobs? What if they are on drugs/alcohol? What if the baby is not adopted into a loving home? What if they keep the baby in turmoil? What if the baby is born into darkness and cannot get out?
The news is bloated with stories of mothers, fathers and step parents murdering their own children. Recently 5 year old AJ Freund, a victim of domestic abuse and neglect, was found dead. Many more unloved children may not die and make the news, but do grow up to become unhappy, disturbed and turn to crime. (If you want in depth economic analysis on how the availability of abortion may lead to reduced crime rates, click here and here).
If we are going to be “pro-life” we also need to be pro-life OUTSIDE of the womb. We cannot just force a baby to be born, not understanding all the complications it might be born into. We have to be pro the life of the mother and the baby: before and after birth.
When the mother isn’t insured, will the pro-lifers pay for prenatal care, and send mommies those yummy gummy pre-natal vitamins I enjoyed?
When the baby starts to nurse but can’t latch-will a pro-lifer pay for a lactation consultant, helping the baby get proper nutrition?
When the mother goes through postpartum depression will the pro-lifer provide mental health therapy and ensure a stable home?
Will the pro-lifer help the mother who works three jobs to make ends meet take a break so she can spend time with her newborn?
When the baby gets diaper rash, will the pro-lifer provide money for diapers and cream — things that cost well over $100/month?
Will the pro-lifer keep the mother and baby safe when they are living in unsafe conditions like so many young women and children are?
Will the pro-lifer pay for housing costs to support a new person, since we keep cutting funding for public housing repairs?
And most of all, will the pro-lifer take in and love the little infant, if its own mother is not capable?
Pro-lifers are not set up to provide this support. Neither is the state of Alabama. According to a CNN Health report, only 43% of Alabama’s counties have hospitals that provide obstetrical care. The state didn’t elect to expand Medicaid. There are almost 3 times more maternal deaths than the national average. The state is in the top 5 for infant mortality rates. There are 6,370 children in foster care. And, on the other end of the life spectrum, Alabama still upholds the death penalty-executing a death row inmate the day after the abortion bill was signed. Many Alabama pro-lifers are hypocrites, stuck in an Orwellian novel. They dictate that some lives matter more than others yet can’t adequately provide for any type of life. How is this “pro” anything?
Alabama women, desperate to survive, will still get abortions. Maybe they were raped. Maybe they were young. Maybe they were poor. There will be a million reasons to get one. Only they won’t get one safely-causing more maternal deaths. Those that want them but can’t get them will bring in unwanted children- subject to abuse, malnutrition, and unhappy lives. Yet the “pro -lifers” will do nothing. Their job is done. The baby was born.
All I can do is encourage us to be “pro-life” in our own definition of the word. Mine is to keep supporting the rights of others and to keep loving my five year old stepson and baby daughter. They lap up love. Love is more important to survival than peanut butter crackers (and man, they like those too). What bothers me more than a few women being careless with abortion choices (and most do find it a heart wrenching decision) is all the unwanted little babies that might be born into loveless homes. What will happen to them?
We need to make more decisions based on love, not judgement.
We shouldn’t tell people what they cannot do with their lives before we understand and support their lives.
Man, judgment is sooooo tempting. Especially as a devoted mama bear mom! It often makes us feel better about ourselves and our own life choices. But it’s just not a pro-life stance for other people’s lives. To really be “pro-life” we need to be pro love.
Alabama legislators and pro-lifers should spend more time walking in the shoes of those they are making rules for. I have a feeling that if more legislators REALLY understood the plights of others, the laws would be different. If they love their kids as much as I love mine, they’d want every child to be born into the same loving care. They’d ensure a high quality of life before forcing more children into it. But that’s my optimism. I’m very positive when it comes to the capacity of human beings. I’m pro-life all the way.