Plus One Small Metaphor
By Cheyne T. Willingham
“Of course we had to change his birthdate. Robert came six months after our wedding. We were going to claim him as a preme, but how could we when he came out as a 12lbs baby… so we lied.”-Everybody Loves Raymond
Comparisons between marriages and birth documents note a peculiar pattern before Roe V. Wade. A tremendous amount of children were born premature if they were conceived on the honeymoon. Well, no, not actually. As adults we understand the concept of the “shotgun wedding”, and it is obvious that many weddings of the time happened simply due to a combination of hormones, hook ups, and horror at the idea of being pregnant and unwed.
We carry some residue of this stigma today, but for the large part this has been lost. A way of relating to that time is imagining if you had been caught embezzling money from your own family. You’ve not just shown yourself to be less than trustworthy, but you have been shown to be less than trustworthy with the people that should mean the most to you. Anyone hearing that story would think twice before associating with you on even the smallest venture. This doesn’t begin to cover the personal shame involved with an unwed pregnancy of that time, but it is a starting point for how cruel the world could be going forward for a single mother in that position.
“A single mom who’s working two jobs and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice, that’s a miracle.”-Bruce Almighty
Today is different though. Around half of the families in America go through a divorce. Meaning that half the marriages in our country have experienced temporary or full single parenting. Besides few blessed and well off communities in America, everyone who comes across this blog will know of at least one friend or relation or have themselves experienced a single parent situation. I myself can recall dozens of first hand accounts. Even if it is not our personal upbringing, it is without a doubt “the norm” in the American experience today.
When it comes to single mothers, though, especially ones that have it all together, we go beyond just normalizing the situation to the point of making it a heroic ideal. Think of how people praise the massive achievement of J. K. Rowling who went from single motherhood, depression, and poverty to writing one of the most famous children’s book series of all times. Think of every time parents of Olympic youth are brought into the picture. Whereas plenty of parents dedicate so much of their personal time to allow their kids to become world best, the most memorable ones are the single moms who did the same as the nuclear family with less resources and time. That is truly the thing though, single moms who get the job done are deserving of praise and recognition because they are doing the job of two in an America who 60 years ago would have left them out in the cold.
“Single Parents Alone Together! Single Parents Alone Together! All for One and One for All!”-About a Boy
But we don’t leave those single moms out in the cold anymore do we. We not only have removed the stigma of single parenthood of old, but we have created vast amounts of support groups, government programs, community shelters so that they will never have to remain homeless, and, with the success of 2nd Wave Feminism, a woman can have any qualified job. This is not to insist that single motherhood is easy by any means, the heroism factor comes from somewhere, but compared to young pregnant gal, homeless, no support, no one to trust or who trusts her, and no possibility of stable job to lift her and her offspring out of poverty 100 years ago. Well, we have come a long way from the days before Roe V. Wade.
“I have to cut myself loose. If you try to pull me up, we’ll both fall.”-Tin Tin
Now, we did have support systems before Roe V. Wade. Adoption was a thing, lack of record keeping was a thing, moving to a new place and claiming widowhood was a thing, government programs were a thing, and let’s not forget outright charity was a thing. But the shame was still there and people would know of the indiscretion on the loss of standing in the community. Lying is easier if no one knows to ask about what happened. It’s much harder when there is a child next to you as living breathing evidence of indiscretion.
I’m not a legal scholar, nor do I hold any kind of legal degree, but I have listened to many lawyers and legal arguments on this subject, and from my understanding I’ll try to summarize the legal basis for Roe V. Wade(feel free to disagree). The argument goes that because a fetus in the womb has not matured to the point of self-sustainability outside of the womb, the mother (who obviously has reached sustainability) has a greater right to privacy as interpreted through the 14th Amendment than the fetus has a right to life. Considering the immense damage done to an unwed pregnant woman in that time frame, it was deemed more necessary to preserve the obvious right of privacy of a matured woman than it was to uphold the possible right of life of a developing fetus. Surety of the woman’s right beat out the unsurety surrounding the fetus.
From their time frame and point of view, I earnestly can be sympathetic to this ruling even if it manufactures a massive legal question of “when do human rights start.” But we are no longer in that time frame. The damage done to an unwed mother is but a fraction of the troubles she’d face before. Our medical science continuously improves viability outside of the womb at younger and younger ages of development, and evidence grows that more of the human body is produced at earlier stages of pregnancy than we thought 60 years ago. On a simple scale of damages done to a human being, the harm done to an unwed mother from the loss of the right to privacy by carrying a child to term has shrunk drastically while more and more components of what makes a human are discovered within a fetus earlier and earlier. Let’s be clear here that between two human beings that one’s right to privacy is less dear than another’s right to life. Especially when in modern society, privacy has been so willingly surrendered.
“Abortions we salute you!... If you just want to get an abortion get one!... God Bless Abortions, and God Bless America!”- The Break with Michelle Wolf
It is likely that you are reading this blog post on facebook, and it is even likely you are reading this blog post on a phone connected to the internet. If so, dear reader, I’ll inform you that you have almost no privacy left to be had. Not only is your cell phone constantly keeping track of your every word but also your every move, and those privacy agreements we all signed with facebook(and other companies like them) are almost exclusively there to sell all the information about you to corporations to better advertise to your specific wants in life. There are less specific seizures of our information that we didn’t sign up for *cough* NSA *cough*, but in most cases of our modern life, if you have any kind of social media, they’ve delved so deep into your private information, they likely know more about you than you do.
This is not an argument that “the Right to Privacy is dead, and we should all get over it.” No, privacy is a very good thing and just because we’ve given it away through voting in bad politicians or signing social media contracts doesn’t mean we should stop fighting to retain the right of privacy for our children. Though speaking of children, the shout your abortion crowd as represented by Michelle Wolf’s tone deaf attempt to make abortions seem patriotic utterly removed their privacy concerning abortions.
Now, I understand their reasoning for “shouting” their abortion. They are attempting to destigmatize abortion in the American context by normalizing it as much as possible. If everyone knows at least one person who has had an abortion than everyone can relate to and sympathize with those who have had an abortion. Exactly in the same way we’ve done with single parenthood. The problem though, is that they don’t understand Roe V. Wade. If you give up your personal privacy concerning abortion than the legal framework for respecting your right to privacy concerning abortion undercut. Still exists, but is under cut.
“No one makes me bleed my own blood.”-Dodgeball
Even if every person shouts their abortion from sea to shining sea, Roe V Wade still will exist and will be the law of the land. Making this argument doesn’t cause the ink to shake from the paper that made Roe V Wade law. No, but it does show that our society has… progressed… changed… altered to where the original argument for Federal protection of abortion from sea to shining sea doesn’t logically make sense. The lingering question of “When do Human Rights Start” still exists, the Right to Privacy of Abortion is eroding by the year, and with states across the union finding ever more enterprising ways to limit abortions, maybe it is time we re-address the subject of abortion’s legal framework because the current framework is rusted and doesn’t hold the same weight it once did.
“Pity. It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo.”-The Fellowship of the Ring
If we are to re-address the legal framework for abortion, I’d suggest we ponder the metaphor of the Chicken and the Pig having a breakfast.
“A chicken and a pig want to have breakfast. The chicken suggests that they both give what they can to the breakfast. ‘I’ll give the eggs, and you pig will give the ham.’” The story is simple. In many cases what people give is unequal. A chicken contributes an egg to the breakfast while the pig commits his life to the breakfast.
Applying it to the case of abortion, a mother contributes an egg and her womb to the pregnancy. The baby commits his life to the pregnancy. This is not an equal situation. We should make laws accordingly.