Part 2 or a 2-Part Series on Abortion. Trigger warning for, well, most upsetting things.
In my last post, I told the story of 18 year-old Alma, a pregnant girl in the child protective services system who has an unusually good chance of becoming self-sufficient and getting her family off government support if she has an abortion. I discussed the various pro-life ways of looking at the situation: pro-baby’s life versus pro-Alma’s life as well as her future children and descendants’ lives. Who decides which life and what aspect of life to prioritize? I chose Alma’s story because is not black and white. I believe in Alma’s case, the choice to keep her baby and the choice to abort it would both come with tremendous grief, both result in extreme loss, and also both be life-enhancing in different ways. I saw both choices as “pro-life.” But Alma’s story is not common for kids like her.
In order to choose what is “pro-life” we have to ask ourselves what IS life? Are there points at which life becomes much like death, or even worse than death? Are there times when in order for life to continue to mean something someone who is “pro-life” might advocate death? This may sound extreme, but how many of us have thought an elderly or suffering relative was “in a better place” or “not suffering anymore.” What these statements essentially suggest is that someone is better off dead. Yes, I understand, we don’t actively kill folks in those situations, but most of us can imagine the point at which life would be worse than death for us or a loved one. That line is different for each of us, but most of us have experienced a situation where we feel that the kindest thing, the most life-affirming, pro-life thing, would be for someone to die. For most of us, fortunately, it’s harder to imagine a “living death” when we think of a child. But not for me. Not after seven years working with poor, abused, and neglected kids and teens.
Walking to and from school dodging gunfire. Is that life? Being repeatedly raped by one’s father over the course of years while family members do nothing, or blame you. Is that life? Is being slammed in the head with a two-by-four for coming home past curfew, life? Is being severely burned or shaken to death, life? Is having one’s limbs broken at 6 months old, life? Is weekly fist fights with a parent, life? Is eating paint and dog food for weeks until a neighbor discovers you’ve been left in the care of a dog at 3 years old, life? Is watching your twin slowly starve to death because a parent refuses food as a punishment, life? Is being kicked out of your home because you identify as a lesbian, life? Is watching your father beat and anally rape your mother while she screams for mercy, life? Is raising three younger siblings at eight years old while your heroine addict parents vomit on themselves, life? Is beating your mother’s boyfriend with a metal pole after he stabs her in the face, life? Is being shot by gang members and left to bleed out after fighting back during a gang rape, life?
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