Russell and Duenes

When Being a Mother is a Curse and Not a Gift

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There’s no place like home; that is unless your home happens to be your mother’s womb. As Helen Alvare points out, we need to start thinking of abortion law as a family issue and not just a constitutional one. This is because a family member is the only person who may legally kill her own child, and abortion has a particularly devastating effect not only on the child, but on entire families. Alvare notes,

The “adults-first” notion has long reigned in abortion law. Consider abortion’s component parts: Abortion is the destruction of a human life by the mother—the only person physically “given” to the child for nurture. Abortion is performed when the child is at perhaps the most defenseless moment of his or her existence. And while the killing of strangers—born or unborn—is prohibited in the United States, family members are permitted to be aborted. The wound to the good of the child, and even to the good of the whole family, is apparent. Abortion law makes the family not only not the safest place, but the only legally sanctioned danger zone. The law, in particular, casts mothering as a serious threat. It suggests that women – due to their childbearing potential – are cursed and not gifted. It makes invisible the humanity of children. Considered from the perspective of family and social welfare, this is not good for women, for children, or for the larger society. Were abortion law to benefit from the same “second thoughts” influencing other areas of family law, it would almost certainly move in a new direction. (emphasis mine)

We consider our culture to be “pro-woman,” but this is decidedly not true when we believe a central feature of womanhood, namely fertility, to be a curse and a liability. We tell women that they are liberated in their legal option to “choose” abortion, but nothing could be further from the truth. When women come to see their childbearing capacity as something to be feared, controlled, and turned off, they are anything but free, no matter what their circumstances.

Is it freeing to have sex liberally outside of marriage and then turn around and tell ourselves that such continued freedom depends on the legal right to kill our own children? “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”



Written by Michael Duenes

February 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

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