Dignity in Life

One may be surprised by my views on reproductive rights, especially since I live in San Francisco, a city known for being liberal. So why am I a black sheep? I've actually thought long and hard about this subject, and I have come to the conclusion that I am pro-life.

While it's true that I was taught at the religious high school I attended that abortion is wrong, I've also done my own research and reading to try and understand the pro-choice stance. After reading books such as the women's health guide, "Our Bodies, Ourselves," I realized that I was still pro-life.

You may be asking yourself, "Hey, what is so different about this guy? How do we know he won't say the usual stuff conservatives say? Why should I even give this article the time of day?" I'd like to answer by pointing out that I am not conservative and that being pro-life doesn't necessarily mean one is super religious -- or that one advocates bombing abortion clinics. That is merely a stereotype. In fact, if I were the leader of a pro-life activist group, the group would be non-violent and I would not allow defacing or destroying abortion clinics, or harming or harassing clinic workers.

It is true that the pro-choice advocates have been labeled "murderers" by pro-life advocates, but I am not here to give labels. I believe labeling people on either side of the argument only leads to finger pointing and name-calling, and that is an immature way to argue your case. What I would like to do is talk about an issue that pro-choice advocates bring up when they argue for abortion rights.

Pro-choice advocates often bring up the scenario, "What if the mother can't take care of her child, and the child goes through group homes and ends up homeless?" To me, that is a poor argument because there have been numerous people who have been born in poverty and ended up quite wealthy. After all, this is the United States, not 19th century India. We are not bound by a caste system.

As a youth living in San Francisco, I was a foster kid from the time I was about nine years old until I was 18. Before then, I lived with my mother, who was single and on welfare at the time. My father was an alcoholic who I rarely saw, not to mention talked to. The reason I got taken away from my mother was because the state declared her an unfit mother. One would conclude that she wasn't ready to be a mother, and therefore having an abortion would have saved her a lot of trouble. Since I would not be alive if that had happened, it would have saved me a lot of trouble instead of having to deal with the foster care system. Granted, that would be true. But please, if you will, read my experience as a foster kid and see what conclusion you come to.

As I said, I went into foster care at age nine. I went through a total of four foster homes in a period of about nine years. My first two homes were very temporary, probably lasting a couple of weeks to a month. I couldn't tell because even at age nine, I wasn't too good at math. I knew nothing about multiplication or even what year I lived in. So there's no way I could tell exactly how long my stay was because I couldn't even tell time. My third foster home was pretty stable. I lived with an African-American mother for about three or four years. There I learned addition, multiplication, division and subtraction, mostly from several private tutors. I of course learned how to tell time and how to count money. At age 11, I learned how to tie my shoes. I went to a public school and was in special education. Out of all these experiences, I always had a home, a bed, and food. I never went hungry or slept outside.

During my stay at the third foster home, I met a friend at school who introduced me to his family. I eventually got to know him and his family. When I was 13, my foster mother at the time got sick and couldn't take care of me. I was going to be transferred to a different foster home, when my friend suggested I live with his family. I eventually moved there in the summer of 1997. When it came time to start high school, I was enrolled in a private school.

I eventually graduated from high school and got my diploma. I became independent and to make a long story short, here I am now, living in an apartment, financially stable, and not addicted to drugs. I had an overall good experience. I realize not all people have this advantage. I am aware that there are many people who grow up in extreme poverty, but that's all a part of life. Is dignity in life only available to those in easy situations, such as a middle class woman who is a fit mother? I came from a pretty scary situation, but I ended up fine.

Poverty has always been a problem. Are billions of mothers going to die raising children? Throughout history, mothers have gotten pregnant unexpectedly and raised children and succeeded. It has always been that way and will continue to be that way. Our mothers gave birth to us. Their mothers gave birth to them. Yet people are scared of bearing children. Even when someone has an abortion, it doesn't take away the fact that they got pregnant in the first place. What are we worried about? Why are we so scared?

Nick Flanagan is a staff writer at WireTap.

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