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Society morally responsible for care of unwanted children

A month ago, I happened to be standing in front of the MIT Pro-Life information booth in Lobby 10. It happened that both those behind the booth at the time as well as myself were white males.

This is generally a situation we try to avoid since the pro-abortion people like to portray us as a kind of white male conspiracy to suppress women. Sure enough, we were approached by a woman dressed in black who challenged us by asking our ages and then inquiring whether any of the four of us had ever been pregnant, as if pregnancy were a disease only women could get. I guess her point was that we, being male, could not take a position on the abortion issue since we were biologically incapable of getting pregnant and hence ineligible for an abortion. I let my friends, better speakers than myself, handle the situation.

Among the things asked by this woman was what we as an organization proposed to do about child care, meaning, I suppose, the care of children who would otherwise be aborted. This question was in fact a thinly disguised insinuation that the pro-life movement was socially irresponsible for not thinking to provide for the millions of new children, mostly unwanted, who would be alive were it not for abortion.

I don't recall that her "question" was ever directly answered. The debate was broken off by a companion of this woman. Well, to the woman in black, whoever you are, the following is for you:

I know of a woman, a woman who is quite ordinary, except for one thing. By herself she takes care of 16 children, none of whom are her own. Her husband divorced her many years ago, and her own three children have grown up and moved away. These 16 children are of an unusual variety, but if they have one thing in common, it is that they would all have been likely candidates for an abortion, given today's reasons for having one.

One of these is a two-year-old blind boy named Jack. He was born three months premature, and his parents didn't want him. This woman nursed him to health several times when he was on the brink of death. Another, an eight-year-old named Brandon, has Downs' Syndrome -- he's not a bad kid, just stubborn sometimes. Another is a beautiful 12 year-old girl who is severely retarded; her name is Carrie, and she personifies innocence itself. Her mother was a teenager.

Yet another is a severely retarded 12 year-old boy named George, a master of the art of trying to annoy people. Nobody else wants him. Were it not for this woman, he would be confined to some nameless institution.

This woman also has a boy of six named Tony. His was a case of neglect -- and of autism -- but with loving attention and many playmates he was drawn from this condition. She has another boy of 11, a pretty bright kid actually, but he took some violent abuse when he was a baby, and so his vision is impaired. Next is a family of two boys and a girl -- Kenny, Anthony and Angel. They're average kids, but were left to fend for themselves. The list goes on. . . .

But this isn't all. This is only the current scenario. At least 50 other children called this woman "Mom" at one time or another. These include blacks, whites, Mexicans, and the whole gamut from the sexually exploited to the physically abused. Neglected kids, rebellious teenagers, violent kids, incorrigible thieves, loudmouths, etc., name your kind -- she's tucked him or her into bed at least once.

Now what is my point in saying this? As one who believes that abortion -- as an absolute -- is morally wrong, I submit to you on the strength of the example of this woman that it is the responsibility of the rest of society to assist in the care of their fellow humans. Of course, the responsibility is first and foremost that of the parents, but in the frequent cases where they choose irresponsibility, it is our collective social and moral duty to assume this burden. This alternative is a better one than killing, isn't it? And by the way, I am in a position to say these things. The woman I've described is my own mother.

Humans like to flatter themselves as creatures in whom reason, as opposed to emotion or baser animal instincts, rules. If this is in fact true, then humans -- who can understand their actions, foresee their consequences, and control their own behavior -- at least by their own arguments can either choose not to engage in sex or to take responsibility for their actions. Abortion is an attempt to circumvent reason.

I probably would not have written this letter were it not for the fact that I called my mother the other day and heard unmistakably the weariness in her voice. The saddening thing is not that she was tired but that no one else in the world seems to recognize the diamond that every child is -- even the blind, the deformed, the retarded, the unborn.

Jim Donahue '91->