As I lay awake last Monday night, horrified and heartsick about my country and the latest Supreme Court nominee, I thought about the obvious glee I saw on TV from some older white men. They were practically salivating about the prospect of overturning Roe vs. Wade. Yes, I know there are women and minorities who support this effort as well, but the majority of people making our laws are white men, and I am struggling to understand why abortion is so very important to them.
I am as opposed to the idea of anyone making reproductive decisions for me as they are in saying they should have the right to do so in order to “protect” unborn babies. I am really trying to understand how we can find any kind of common ground.
The pro-life movement, which I prefer to call “pro-birth,” seems be saying that fetuses have more rights than a grown woman and should be brought into the world no matter what. Some will go so far as to say that even in the cases of rape and incest or the threat to the life of the mother, the fetus should still be given the chance to live.
I have seen with my own eyes the lives that many unwanted children have to live — lives of abuse and neglect, inadequate care, lack of food, poor educational opportunities, a lack of social supports. Is it really so great for them that they were forced to come into this world? Where is the pro-life outrage for these living children? I cannot believe that one would still be pro-life if one ever worked with abused and unwanted children, as I have. The trauma that these children suffer is often revisited on the rest of the country as they grow into angry, addicted, violent adults. And we then lock them away or sentence them to death in our privately run prisons. How does any of this make sense?
I also have a very difficult time getting past the pro-life movement’s lack of care once a child is born. I’m sure people will jump in here to say that they donate diapers and clothes and cribs and items to these mothers. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about caring for the real, live breathing baby who develops and grows into a child. Where is the outrage at the laws that abandon these children or their mothers? Why do the first cuts to ensure tax breaks for the wealthy always seem to involve women and children, Medicaid, jobs, housing, food stamps, Head Start, education?
Most women I know both personally and professionally would never want an abortion; many of them have had abortions anyway — for a variety of reasons that are not my business or yours. God has given us free will for a reason. The decisions we make here on earth are between Him and the individual.
I read recently that nearly 70 percent of U.S. voters don’t want Roe overturned. So, how can a few wealthy white men be in a position to take this right away? I am a 54-year-old woman who will never have to face this decision, but I desperately want this choice to continue for future generations of women. We need to rise up together and not allow this to be taken from us.
We need to have empathy and understanding for one another and stop the judgment and hatred and the misguided religious beliefs that are really about disempowering women. As I look at this issue from every perspective, I can clearly see that it’s really not about the babies at all.
Betsy Schindler is a clinical social worker. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.