We should all agree that preventing abortion in the first place is the goal we should all strive for and let the contention surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade push us closer to common ground.
There is a dangerous presumption from the side of pro-choice advocates who name the foster care system, as if it is an argument for why abortion should be legal. We have all heard this point churned out repeatedly: the foster care system is terrible and anybody that legislates against abortion is securing unwanted children a spot in an institution that guarantees failure for that child. While it’s true that the foster care system is in a critical need of reform, we should be careful to resist answering one extreme with another. The answer to having too many unwanted children is not to just dispose of them for the sake of a ‘return to balance’. If we applied this attitude towards overflowing prisons, there would be debates on ethics held on every street corner until an agreeable humane solution was hashed out.
It is often difficult for people to perceive what it’s like to be in foster care, and sometimes they tend to draw assumptions to fill those chasms. However, it is simply unacceptable when, for the sake of proving an argument, some claim it would have been better for the disenfranchised youth in this country to not be given a fighting chance in this world to begin with. Why is the stigma for foster youth disproportionately hopeless when compared to other marginalized minorities? Could this imbalance in perception be furthering the suffocation of voices struggling to find an attentive audience? How can we expect the foster youth in this country to proclaim an affirmation of life to a world who believes they would have been better off dead?
When you believe something is helpless, this can lead to hopelessness and when hope is abandoned, people will justify a complete disregard for, or in some cases, utilization of a population that is merely “circling the drain.” Youth in foster care are being unjustly utilized in this manner by pro-choice groups to the point where even an utterance of the term ‘foster-care’ emanates a feeling of hopelessness upon those listening. It’s time these careless associations be dismantled and held to the light of human decency and reason.
The foster care system is in place to minimize damage dealt by the issue of unwanted or unmaintainable children and babies. It is far from a perfect system, however. For example, we allocate over ten times more funding to foster care and adoption rather than focusing on re-uniting families. Three quarters of child maltreatment cases involve neglect of some kind. I have been in the foster care system as well as worked for a child welfare agency and I can confidently say most neglect cases were in some way related to lack of financial security. There is an alarming irony in how excessive funding for foster care and adoption offsets potential funding for programs that help impoverished families keep from losing their children.
About 73% of women who have had abortions cite a lack of financial resources as the highest motivating factor for why they chose not to keep their babies. That said, why don’t we prioritize fostering a mother’s desire to be a successful mother as much as possible with a swathe of financial incentives and resources instead of reducing her choices down to two extremes? In the light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we should brace for the influx of an encumbered foster care system by returning to a common ground of helping prevent the problem itself.
It’s important for foster youth themselves to break the bounds placed on them by others’ misplaced perceptions. This sentiment extends to other minority groups as well, but the message is essentially the same: Don’t give them a reason to assume you’re not capable of overcoming the very adversity that makes them project their own failure onto you. The first thing you should do when pointing out a problem with the world is figure out your exact positioning in relation to a solution. Often people are content to know where they stand in relation to the problem only. If you adopt that thinking, you may be closer to the side that exacerbates the problem than you would like to think. And this is precisely my point.
Considering the contention surrounding the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, we should search for a plank to stand on first, before plunging into trepid waters. Simply put, nobody wants to have an abortion. That is, you would suggest a host of preventative measures before finally resorting to abortion as a last-ditch solution. In fact, there is a common ground buried beneath a dirty pile of dichotomous thinking and overrun simplifications.
All people, whether pro-life or choice, care deeply about the issue of unwanted pregnancy and would like to prevent abortion from happening altogether. First, the left and right need to break their ideological frameworks out of their collective cages into a more co-inhabitable landscape. It’s from this common ground that I’m aiming to articulate the hushed voices of foster youth in the loudest, most clear manner possible. We are casualties to a human issue, not a bipartisan issue. And whether you choose to occupy either side of pro-life or pro-choice, we should all find it abhorrent to forsake an entire minority population as if they were condemned to a life of complete misery.