Wednesday, May 4, 2022

What about the children?

Stanley - Thursday

This week's leak of a draft opinion from the US Supreme Court indicating the likelihood of Roe v Wade being severely curtailed or even overturned made me think of the few anti-abortion friends I have who have never adequately answered my normal questions: 'What about the children who are born unwanted? What do you propose to support them?' 

Instead of writing about it myself, I'm going to reproduce an entire opinion piece in The Washington Post by columnist Michele L Norris entitled The GOP roars about abortion. Then they abandon the children. It conveys my thoughts far better than I can.

What about the children?

For decades, the abortion debate has been about politics and precedent, about religion and reproductive rights, about riling up voters and rewriting laws. Rarely is it about what happens to children once they roam this earth if their mothers are forced to go through with an unplanned pregnancy. Where is the commitment by antiabortion warriors to take up the fight for the babies who will be born under duress?

Short answer? It hardly exists. This is the false piety hidden in the Republican Party’s zeal to roll back a woman’s right to choose. The sanctity of human life is all-important right up to the point when that flesh-and-bone child enters a world where programs designed to support women, the poor or households teetering toward economic ruin are being scaled back by a party that claims to be about family values. Family, for the radicalized GOP, is too often an inelastic framework built around powerful men, subordinate women, and children who will learn how to hurl themselves forward in life, even if there’s no money, few educational opportunities, no job prospects in their future, no proverbial boots with magical straps to lift their fortunes toward the sun.

The pro-life warriors — including legislators who have been rolling back abortion rights at the state level — are silent when it comes to fighting for even the simple principle of enhanced child support enforcement so the men who father these children can provide for the life they create. Let’s not forget that women who seek abortions are disproportionately poor or economically insecure. A 2014 study found that 3 in 4 women who terminate their pregnancies are low-income and almost 50 percent of those women live below the poverty level. Fifty-five percent are unmarried or do not live with the father.

Diana Greene Foster, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, knows what a world without abortion looks like. She spent 10 years tracking thousands of women and reports that women who were denied abortions because of rules around gestation limits were more likely to be single, without steady work, without a partner and without family support five years later. Those women also reported feeling trapped and less emotionally bonded to their new babies compared with women who had abortions and then had subsequent children later in life.

“It is by no means a given that a woman who did not want to have a baby cannot forge a loving and healthy relationship with that child, even if it doesn’t happen right away,” Greene Foster writes in her book The Turnaway Study. “But the finding does underscore the adverse circumstances for the child when a woman continues a pregnancy against her will.”

A further irony is that many of the states that have enacted the most restrictive bans on abortion also spend the least money to provide health and economic benefits for expecting mothers and children once they’re born.

The numbers don’t lie when you look at state rankings on maternal morbidity, infant mortality, premature birth, child poverty, birth weight, access to health care, day care, food stamps and housing. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s draft opinion is about a case that comes from Mississippi — a state that ranks dead last in preterm births, neonatal mortality and overall child well-being.

Some religious institutions do focus on the outcome of unplanned pregnancies. The Gabriel Project, sponsored by Catholic Charities, is a crisis pregnancy center that aims to offer compassionate and confidential ministry to those pregnant and in distress. Clearly, its aim is to reduce the number of abortions, but at least a program such as this centers women and the children they might bear. That rarely happens in political or legal debates about abortion.

The women who contemplate ending their pregnancies never really take center stage in this drama. Their dilemma is framed as simply a choice. Their anguish is subject to moral policing. Their reasons (poverty, abusive partner, age, insufficient life skills) are brushed away by majority White and male lawmakers who have no problem policing women’s bodies but have been howling for months about something as simple as mask mandates. Even women who become pregnant under the most horrible of circumstances — rape or incest — are criminalized under a growing number of state laws if the mother decides not to carry the fetus to term, regardless of the physical or emotional trauma.

The prospect of a United States where abortion is unattainable is no longer an abstraction. Those who have long fought to outlaw the procedure often argue that the child whose life is ended by abortion might be the very person who could discover the cure for cancer — as if the government needs to control women’s bodies to protect the future of the human race.

That argument is wickedly hollow when it comes from lawmakers who are unwilling to invest in helping expectant mothers or providing a stronger safety net for the children they will be forced to bear.

What is happening sickens me. The 'great experiment' is failing.


Upcoming events:

Crimefest in Bristol:

THURSDAY, 12 MAY, 15.50 – 16.40
* M.J. Lee
* Douglas Lindsay
* Michael Stanley
* T E Kinsey 
Participating Moderator: Michael Ridpath


FRIDAY, 13 MAY, 12:30 - 13:20
* Kia Abdullah
* Antony Dunford
* Sarah Sultoon
* Holly Watt

Participating Moderator: Michael Stanley

FRIDAY, 13 MAY, 16:00 – 16:50
* Alison Bruce 
* Dugald Bruce-Lockhart
* Alex Shaw
* Michael Stanley
Participating Moderator: Zoë Sharp 


  1. It’s impossible to fathom the wickedness of these lawmakers. Worst of all is the helplessness we feel to stop this train hurtling down the track. And no, it won’t slow down or stop at the next station. It will keep right on going.

  2. There is no upside to this for people of conscience, and it is but another mortal blow to the social experiment known as American democracy.

  3. I agree with much of the WaPo article. It's true. The states with the harshest bans on abortion provide the least support to mothers or children. It so happens that 60% of women who have abortions are already parents. But they can't afford or take care of more children.
    This leaked opinion reflects the worst misogyny and rejection of people's rights to autonomy over their health and lives. And most of the bans do NOT have exceptions for victims of rape or incest, even children. This is just brutality and cruelty. If one hears 12-year-old child in Texas being told she can't have an abortion, and her mother says she can't travel out of state due to her job and other children, it is a cry of misery. There is to much to oppose here. Also, the writer of the opinion said "there is no right to privacy in the Constitution." Well, that could be used to get rid of a lot of rights that have been gained in the last few hundred years. Also, women aren't even in the Constitution, Black people aren't considered full human beings, Indigenous people who were here long before others aren't included either. This principle could be used to undo so many rights. It is just sickening.
    I was in the pro-choice movement years ago and it's so hard now with the right-wing justices. And some of them outright lied when asked if they'd overturn a "precedent." They said "no." I hope there is a huge movement all over the country with everyone in it.