Abortion, perhaps the most divisive issue in America right now, has come back into the national forefront with recent so-called "heartbeat" laws passed in Alabama and elsewhere. They not only …
Abortion, perhaps the most divisive issue in America right now, has come back into the national forefront with recent so-called "heartbeat" laws passed in Alabama and elsewhere. They not only threaten doctors with up to 99 years in jail if they perform an abortion but [also] criminalize women who need one, even in cases of incest or rape. Frankly, I'd recommend 99 years in prison for men who impregnate a woman and then abandon her and their baby. We can call it the "Deadbeat Dad Amendment."
It is, however, unfair to characterize all who consider themselves "pro-life" as a bunch of patriarchal reactionaries, although the 25 male Alabama senators who approved this bill might qualify for such a description. Many are motivated by sincere moral, religious and personal beliefs and concern for those yet unborn. A close friend of mine once told me that she was pro-life because she raised five children and was happy not to have terminated any of her pregnancies. It was hard to argue with her, not that I even wanted to. But the choice to do so was hers and her family's, not Big Brother's.
For Alabama, however, hypocrisy truly exists. There is no reverence for life when Alabama's draconian anti-abortion law will not only condemn many women to mutilation and death - abortions occurred before Roe v. Wade and will continue even if it is overturned - but will subject tens of thousands of women and children to poverty and destitution. Alabama has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation along with a dismal record for overall child well-being, education and teen pregnancy. Apparently, once that baby exits the womb, the state will do nothing to protect or nourish it. It takes a village to erase a child.
Unfortunately, in this regard, New Mexico doesn't have much to brag about either, although our government is unlikely to pass similar anti-abortion laws. In 2018, our state came in dead last for child well-being, beating out Mississippi. Here in Taos, we have too many young people who are either at risk or living below the poverty line. Anyone who has had the privilege of working in our local schools knows that these are brave and resilient kids despite the challenges they face through no fault of their own.
Protecting children is a sacred trust and a moral responsibility. Not just when in the womb but out in the world we have created for them.
If people want to be truly pro-life in order to protect children, I suggest they volunteer in the local schools, substitute teach, become a Big Brother/Big Sister, mentor a student [and] foster or adopt a homeless kid. For those who are already doing so, thank you for putting your values into action.
Daniel A. Brown is an artist, writer and teacher living in Arroyo Seco.
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