A Call for Social Reform
A plan that could guarantee the Right to Life

by Carol Abbott
January 2003  


         Two items in the news this past week caused me sleeplessness, as I tossed and turned with conflicting feeling and arguments crashing around in my head.  In an effort to get some sleep tonight, I am writing down some thoughts and trying to get a little organization into my personal feelings on a colossal and bitter debate that has been going on for over thirty years.

         I speak, of course, of Roe v. Wade.  It's 30th anniversary has put it once again onto the front pages of newspapers and in the headlines on Web news services.  The second item that caught my attention is the current controversy that has been fanned into a very public outcry of the censure of the governor of California by his local Catholic Bishop who declares that Mr. Davis should not be receiving the sacrament of communion so long as he supports the United States' express constitutional privilege of a woman's right to choose in the case of abortion.  Never mind that the Governor is expected to uphold the rights and laws of all a state's citizens, not just those who believe exactly as he/she does.

         It grieves me that many women have found abortion to be the only solution to deal with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.  I grieve even more for the terrible conflict this must cause in their minds as they make this desperate attempt to wrest the charge of a life which must feel as though it is spinning beyond their ability to control. However---and this is a giant HOWEVER---I do not even dare to think that I might know what God is thinking on this matter.  All indications from reading the scriptures are that He is opposed to death and killing and so it would stand to reason that he hates abortion as a sin.   But God sees into our hearts and His compassion is great enough to forgive any sin, even causing a death.  But what kept me awake was wondering: does He weigh abortion as a greater sin than neglecting/abusing a living child to it's death?  

         There are thousands of such children who have been born into families that never should have been entrusted with the care and raising of any child.  We hear of these little ones' torment and destruction at the hands of their caregivers nearly every week on the televisions news and in our newspapers.  And the odds are great that for every little one that we "hear" about, there are many that will manage to 'survive', not becoming a child-abuse death statistic, but continue to be mistreated, battered and abused by someone who is supposed to 'love' them until they are so altered emotionally that they will struggle for the rest of their lives to trust anything or anyone againMany of these children will grow into adults who also abuse.  A great many of them will fall into using alcohol or other drugs trying to dull or cope with the memories and the pain.  At least a portion will become felons and criminals and cause societal miseries ranging from the minor all the way to mass murder. 

         Would abortion "stop" child abuse.  Of course we know that the answer to that is a resounding NO!  For we have 30 years of Roe v. Wade to prove that child abuse continues.  Some would say that Roe v. Wade has even caused more people to disregard the child, since it is the product of destruction of the most innocent, pre-born child.  I see the validity of such an argument but, there again, I do not know what God's answer would be.  I think that in God's eyes, ALL LIFE IS OF EQUAL VALUE --- pre-born and born are both loved and cherished by Him with equal measure.  That means all born beings.  Even the sinners, the murderers, the child abusers (And God help me, that was a terribly difficult sentence for me to write.  It brought tears to my eyes, a chill at the top of my spine and dread to my heart.)

         Just for a few minutes, let us take a step back and do this:  Imagine two babies in the wombs of their 'mothers'.  Both 'mothers' are living in the same communal house.  They are 'friends', living with a loose knit group of other 'friends'.   Their main activity each and every day is the manufacturing and consuming of methamphetamine as well as several other recreational but none the less illegal drugs.   Both young women are as happy and as miserable as drug users are likely to be.    One is carrying Baby A (Adam)  and her friend is carrying Baby B (Becky).  Neither mother has really named her baby, but each is aware of her pregnancy.  Adam's mother is not a stupid woman so she knows that the drugs may have affected her kid to a point that it will not be an easy thing to care for him.   Besides, her boyfriend doesn't want a kid and has slapped her around quite a bit lately and  threatened to throw her out on the street if she doesn't get rid of it.   Her own folks kicked her out a long time ago and trickin' can't be easy when you're pregnant and there's really no other way she can figure out of this mess.  So she gets herself cleaned up enough to get to the local free clinic and after going through the hassles 'they' (the social worker at the clinic who is obliged by law to offer alternatives to abortion) put before her, she throws away her baby and Adam is no more.  At least on this earth.  As Christians know, God has Adam in His Kingdom now.  (For those who believe that the un-baptized go only to limbo:  If God loves each soul from the very moment of it's conception, then it would be hard to believe otherwise than that the un-baptized are treated with the same love, care and acceptance as anyone else and my faith says this is so).

         Back at the meth house Becky's mother is in such a fog most of the time, she sort of forgets that there's any problem, especially after the first few weeks when the morning sickness is over with.  When she does give the baby a passing thought, she is sometimes even excited. "Hey, this little kid is going to be mine.  I'll take such good care of her (it's gotta be a girl, they are so much more fun to dress up and I'll understand her, 'cause I'm a girl, it'll be great!)".  "Oh, man, I guess I ought to go see someone at the clinic, I think you're suppose to take vitamins or something when you're PG.  Like, I'll do that next week.  But, hey, what if they find out I'm like on smack!  God, that would be such a mess.  I don't want to have no explaining to do.  This is my kid.  I don't want no damn social worker tellin' me what I can and can't do."  So this mother to be, on her own, begins to cut back some on all the partying.  It's hard to do, but she does manage to cut back some.  And 'everyone' (like all her friends) think a little baby is so cool.   "Like kids are such a trip, man!"  "We're all gonna be like it's aunts and uncles."  So they don't rag on her to get high so often. "You know, it's like for the baby, right?"

         Six months later Becky is born.  She is a couple of weeks early, underweight and with some medical problems courtesy of Mom's drug use.  But the social worker on the case is assured by Becky's grandmother (who took her daughter back home to live with her for the last six weeks of the pregnancy and got her over to the clinic and tried to lay down the law to her daughter about the drugs and all that stuff.  "It's got to be in the past honey. all that stuff you did, you hear me!  Your baby needs you.   I'll try to help and you can live here, but you're the one who has to shape up.   I mean it now.  You understand!  This baby needs you.  Okay?") that Becky's Mom is going to live with her.  That Becky's Mom is really trying to put her past behind her, to keep herself clean and away from that other life.  And the Social Worker has heard it all before but makes the decision to see how it goes because there aren't any available caregiver options open for a long term placement at present.  And it works, sort of, for about six weeks.  Becky's mom gets to talking on the phone late at night with her baby's daddy.  He wants his lady back with him and the sweet talk doesn't take long to wear Becky's mom down.  While Grandma's at work, Becky's mother packs up the kid's stuff including the dropper bottle of vitamins that the clinic gave her on her last visit ("see! I'm going to be a great mom. Like I can do this mom thing.  I'm smart.  I know my kid needs vitamins and all that.  This kid is gonna love me and she's gonna be so happy to be with her daddy. He'll love her, too, I know.  She's so cute.   After all, a kid should have the right to get to know her daddy.  Oh man, it's going to be just great!") and off they head to the meth house.  Well actually, it's a different place now, out at the edge of town.  "That way we won't be gettin' no hassles from anyone---and most of all that nosy old lady from the social services!"

         Because of her poor start in this life, little Becky is a rather quiet and passive child.  Sleeping a great deal, not responding to stimuli or being offered any consistent attention or a stable routine.  Her diet is poor.  Her mother stops trying to nurse and starts her on formula but sometime she gets caught without much money so she picks up a few cans at the overstock outlet that are really expired but no one notices. Hey food's food, right?   Other times, she stretches the powder with twice as much water.  "Hey, Becky likes it just as well and I'm savin' some serious money that way".  Diapers are so expensive, so Becky gets a real bad case of diaper rash and some kind of yeast infection from being changed less frequently and that makes the kid cry, which bugs everyone.  But especially her father.....  

         I am not going on with this story (for Becky is a hypothetical infant, placed into hypothetical circumstances and her fate, whatever it might be is not real).  However, the fate of hundreds of real infants, toddlers and pre-school and school-aged boys and girls is ALL TOO REAL and ALL TOO UGLY, BRUTAL AND DEADLY for any caring, compassionate human being to ignore.

         So Pray with all your might for the safety and wellbeing of the pre-born.  Pray that the adults of this world gain the wisdom to end the NEED for women to seek abortion.   But while you make this prayer, I beg you to never forget to give equal thought in prayer to the plight of those children who are already born.  And these children (and God help us for they are numerous) need more than our prayers.  They need our active intercession.  They need a compassionate and caring government that will offer huge outlays of money for the education, medical care and tangible assistance to their parents.   A child born into poverty needs more resources from the public sector (not less).   A child born to a drug addicted mother needs for someone to get treatment for the mother so she can get off of drugs and stay off of them and learn to parent the child she bore.  A child born into or existing in an abusive home needs for someone to intercede to remove the child to a safe and loving environment while the abuser is evaluated and treated to determine if he/she is capable of change before being entrusted with a child's care ever again.  These children need good, decent, hardworking roll models in their lives.  Which means that some people who never considered before becoming foster parents or adoptive parents must come forward, for there will always be a need for them. 

         Some children do not thrive or may even die because their parents are incapable of keeping them adequately fed and otherwise cared for through ignorance, a sense of false pride or other dubious but honest circumstance beyond their control. For these families, financial assistance in the form of decent paying jobs, adequate, safe housing and affordable child-care will change these children's fates.   But for the vast number of neglected/abused children of sociopaths, the unredeemable drug addicted and those few biological parents who are evil and have no hope for redemption, the only way to help the innocent children is to find parent substitutes as soon as possible and remove these children from those who would cause them harm.

         Roe v. Wade is a great evil to many humans who cherish life over death for the innocent.  Each of these good people believe with their whole heart and soul that every conceived child has the "right to life".  But I beg you to temper your beliefs with this thought:  The 'Right to Life' should also include the Right to Live in a nurturing, caring, loving world where each child is given a safe place to dwell, enough nutritious food to eat, affordable medical care to keep them healthy, a good education so that they can be productive, responsible members of society, affordable child care so that their caregivers can set the good example of working hard at a meaningful, decently paid job and the wisdom to learn to respect all other people of this world with equality and compassion.  Working for (as well as praying for) these circumstances to prevail will go a long way toward solving the dilemma of Roe v. Wade.



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