Watching the latest video pro-life organization Live Action has posted on one of their websites, Inhuman: Undercover in America’s Late-term Abortion Industry, I cannot retain from thinking about how abortion is discussed over and over again in the same terms. The video pictures Leroy Carhart, a pro-choice physician, explaining to an undercover patient how the abortion procedure goes. Of course, the intention of the short footage is to horrify the viewers, who learn what happens to the fetus during the intervention. But the discussion ends here, as if all the problems of the living thing would disappear together with its parents’ decision of abortion. What happens to the child after he/she (or anywhere in between) is born is of no concern to these pro-life activists?
There are a lot of examples of how narrow such views can be and one of it is that of Romania. To make the story short, during the communist regime, abortion became illegal here and the consequences involved, besides the massive deaths in women, a lack of support from the state when it came to child education and care. While there are few similarities between the East-European Country and the USA, when it comes to access to pre-school education, the two seem to have something in common.
In his State of the Union speech at the beginning of the year, Barack Obama spoke about the dire need for universal pre-school education. This leads to a two-fold approach: one pointing towards financial expenses, the other towards existing institutions that can offer child care. From any given perspective, the system and many American families already seem overwhelmed with expenditures.
A year of pre-K in the U.S. can climb up to as much as $11,000 a year. For middle class families, this is about 10% of their annual income, but for single-parent families, the amount may rise to more than 50% a year. This means that there are already numerous persons who have high difficulties dealing with their child’s education expenses. With two children, the situation could become much worse. Without education due to lack of money, the chances of such youngsters for becoming competitive in the American work market would be dim.
Kindergarten entrance age varies between 4 and 5. But what happens with children before this? For kids that are younger, child care services are harder to find and very expensive, with prices sometimes rising up to almost $20,000. Among 3-year-olds, only 40% of families with less than $10,000 a year send their to children to pre-K, compared to 34% of those with an income between $50,000-$60,000.
With more than one child, many families would have to decide the best approach for offering their offspring proper education and care. The higher chances are that the number of women leaving work in order to supply for these services would increase. The result would be the return of a baby-boom era, in which women took to their traditional roles of wives and mothers, in short, a total waste of the last 40 years of women’s emancipation action. The loss of an income source, together with multiplying mouths to feed, would only increase the poverty rate, highly affecting the groups that are already the most vulnerable.
Single-mothers would be part of these vulnerable groups. About half of today’s mothers will be, at one point or another in their lives, single, and the statistics I mentioned earlier have already shown the financial burden their child’s education brings on them. With two or more small children, it would be impossible for these women to send them to a child care facility while they are at work. Not only will their income drop, but their chances of returning to their last working place would mostly certain be equal to none.
In extreme cases, child neglect cases are bound to rise as a consequence of the parents’ incapacity to deal with their offspring. In 2010, more than 500,000 children were the victims of neglect (defined as an act or lack of act on the part of the parent that led to death, serious physical or emotional harm, exploitation of any kind). As the U.S. Child Welfare Information Gateway’s report shows, among the factors that trigger child neglect are poverty, single parenthood, young maternal age (where’s the paternal factor I might ask ...). An important aspect of the problem that shouldn’t be missed is the ethnic and racial ratio when it comes to child neglect. Compared to their representation in the overall population, African American and Native American victims of child abuse are over-represented. Making abortion illegal would hit hard on them too, financially and socially enlarging the gap between whites and non-whites.
To return to where I’ve started, a parent’s responsibility is not just about giving life, but making it a quality one. I do not believe in the phrase “God wanted it to be so,” it would turn every human effort into nonsense. It is for parents to decide the number of children they want and can support. A child is a long-term project for his/her parents and society.
Unless these two have the resources to invest in this new person, there would be only more suffering. By so narrowly focusing only on life before birth, pro-choice organizations bring their lack of responsibility and understanding towards children, women, and life all together.