Commentary


Who Will Care for the Children?


by John W. Whitehead
October 24, 1999

One merely has to scan the headlines to see the plight many young pregnant women face: an infant girl was found in a toilet at Disney World, the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck; a nineteen-year-old Arizona woman was accused of drowning her newborn and hiding its body in a coffee can; a New York woman was arraigned on murder charges after giving birth on a toilet and letting the infant drown in the bowl; a New Jersey girl gave birth during her prom and left her child to die in the bathroom. And these are just a few of the known cases.

Where do these young mothers get the idea that it's acceptable to murder their children? Many are simply victims of impersonalism--the increasing tendency to view people as consumers to manipulate and discard. Moreover, by applying dehumanizing terminology such as "the product of a pregnancy" to unborn children, we have distanced ourselves from other people, helpless people. In the process, human beings in today's high-tech scientific world have quite literally become disposable. We have thus entered an era where we can quite logically say that posterity has become passé.

Even the traditional concept of what it means to be human is threatened at virtually every turn, so much so that a major effort must be maintained to preserve the humanness of the human race. Thus, the single most important focus in everyday life should be how people treat and care for one another.

Sadly, children compose the group most impacted by these trends. The type of horror stories discussed above, plus the high child abuse rate and the rising numbers of neglected and abandoned children, are indications of a society that is losing its grip on how to nurture and care for its young.

Unfortunately, those who say they care the most about children--both the born and unborn--have become victims as well. A clear example is the so-called pro-life movement, as documented in a recent eight-year study investigating how different states treat their children.

In this study, Jean Schroedel, a professor at Claremont Graduate University in California, revealed that states with the strongest laws against abortion are also the states that spend the least on needy children. These states
are also less likely to make it a crime for a third party to kill or batter a fetus.

Schroedel's research sheds light on some serious cobwebs in neglected corners of the pro-life movement. A concern for humanity should be at the core of any true pro-life philosophy. Therefore, it would logically follow that states which make it difficult for women to have abortions would better care for their children when they are born. The evidence was overwhelmingly clear, however, that those states were much less likely than abortion rights states to support the poorest and neediest children in foster care, welfare programs, adoption of physically and mentally handicapped children and their education.

The reality is that those involved in pro-life activities have fallen prey to the very thing that dehumanizes any movement--they have politicized their issues and, in the process, removed the human element which should be at the heart of what they are doing. As such, many pro-life groups are committed more to a Republican agenda than to a human life agenda. Thus, there is more concern with preserving the party line on issues such as limiting welfare reform than on pursuing strategies that might persuade a financially destitute pregnant teenager to give birth to her child.

Children--unborn or born--are not a political issue. A child's fate cannot be entrusted to the partisanship of the political system as Senators and Congressmen strive to gain the favor of the President or those who elect them.

Fortunately, there exists an opportunity for those who believe human life is valuable to make a difference in their community. But this issue is about much more than just abortion. It's about needy children everywhere--children who are hungry, children who are denied educational opportunities and children who just need someone to care for them. We cannot let our concern for those who cannot defend themselves stop at birth.

Moreover, we can never forget that children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. They are the combined images of their parents and the society around them and must, therefore, be handled with love, compassion and care. If not, those who come after us have a right to condemn us. 764 words
ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

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