Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The High Price of Choosing Life

In the past year, my wife and I are a single degree of separation from three young women who have found themselves with what many like to call “unwanted pregnancy.”

If my wife had a mutant power, it’s the power to draw those in dire straits and high-stress life circumstances to her like moths to a flame. Having trouble nursing a newborn (it’s often a lot harder than you’d think if you’ve never had to do it)? She spent years driving to friends’ and acquaintances’ houses at all hours to help a new mom, in tears. Going through a divorce, or dealing with any number of dysfunctional household problems like alcohol or infidelity? She’s on speed dial for people in these circumstances.

And in the case of young women we know who find themselves staring at a pregnancy stick and fearing the repercussions from parents, society, crappy unreliable lovers, or God, she’s often the first or second call. In two of the three recent situations, these girls -- none of them old enough to drink legally -- called my wife before they told their parent(s) or the boys responsible.

These three recent events have all gone different ways. One chose to keep the baby. One chose to abort. One is in the middle of the very complicated process of arranging for an adoption. If you think these stories are so simple as to think my wife celebrated the two who went to term and mourned for the lost baby, or if you think it's as simple as the opposite, you probably don't care to know, or understand, the complexities of the actual situations. Abusive boyfriends. Absentee fathers. Promising careers at the end of college. Unemployment. That particularly odd kind of Christian upbringing that feeds shame and dishonesty. Each girl has her own messy, complicated world to manage, and each girl is completely unprepared to manage yet one more life in that mix.

Here’s where I’m about to get political.

Adoption is ridiculously expensive. In fact, adopting through the standard American process is so expensive (and the process so burdensome) that a vast majority of the families I know who has adopted have gone overseas to do so.

The idea of abortion is horrifying and nauseating. I loathe it. It turns my stomach to the point where thinking, much less typing the word, leaves me weaker. But I don’t know many people -- I can’t think of a single person, myself included -- who is “pro choice” because they love abortions, or because they think they are a beautiful and welcome part of our natural world.

A lot of adoption experts and bloggers will tell you the high cost of adoption is an important and vital part of the deal. The cost and lengthy process weeds out the scumbags and is hardly any different, cost-wise, than having a child the “natural” way.

But if I were a Republican, if I were a conservative who believed abortion was one of the greatest evils the world could ever serve up…. Why wouldn’t I spend more of my time, energy and political capital trying to make the Best Available Abortion Alternative, adoption, a more efficient, affordable, accessible process?

Unfortunately, conservative anti-abortion citizens are, nine times out of 10, far more interested in stopping a perceived evil at all cost rather than working night and day to create and support as many viable -- and less “evil” -- alternatives as possible.

This is true with abortion, with drugs, with prostitution, with almost any of the proclaimed societal and moral ills in our midst.

Instead of drug treatment, incarceration. Instead of regulation and supervision, heightened penalties. Instead of education on options and choices, an insistence on abstinence and promise rings.

One Answer Fits All. Zero Tolerance. No Mercy.

You’ll find multitudes more energy and enthusiasm for laws making it harder and harder to get an abortion than you’ll ever find for making it easier to adopt, for making it easier to carry a baby to term and transfer it to someone more willing and capable of caring for it. How often have you ever heard a politician take a stance about making adoption more affordable, or easier?

To be fair, there are some churches and Christian ministries built around making it more possible for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy to be able to carry the baby to term, but these kinds of efforts should be the centerpiece of the “moral” stance, not the afterthought or side show.

We all know, and there’s not a doubt, that there are too many people having too many babies they either don’t want or aren’t really capable of raising well. If you get pregnant in Lubbock, Texas, you’re more than 300 miles from the nearest abortion clinic. There’s only one in the entire state of Kansas. Because of laws, and politicians, and years of hard, careful, holier-than-thou work.

Where’s that energy for making adoptions easier, and cheaper, and more efficient? The consequences of these “morality” laws is that more people who never wanted a child, who live lifestyles unfitting for children, have no choice but to have children, often with little to no support postpartum for raising (or affording) the child.

But nobody scores political points anymore for making something easier. Only for uncompromising values, quashing opponents, building walls, differentiating and obliterating enemies.

1 comment:

G. B. Miller said...

I definitely agree with you on that salient point about adoption. Working for a state child care agency (not as a social worker), it would make a helluva lot more sense to make adoption easier & cheaper, as opposed to the pursing the concept of keeping families together with a tunnel vision clarity that borders on zealotry.