On June 24, Roe v. Wade was overturned. Although I cannot see the issue from the perspective of a woman, I can address it from the perspective of a man in prison and a father of seven.
Each and every day I see men with broken lives, who perhaps should have been aborted but were not. These men may not have been aborted by their parents, but they may not have been necessarily wanted either.
I say it as someone who was brought into this world unplanned.
Many men here, including myself, were raised in poverty. Their parents may have had very little access to education and financial resources. Perhaps they were raised by other family members or left to fend for themselves. Many were ignored, neglected, abused and moved from home to home in foster care. They lacked the support a child needs to mature into a responsible adult, and so they resorted to other means of survival.
I was born prior to 1973, when Roe v. Wade made abortion legal. In 1967, abortion was not an option unless a woman was willing to risk her life in a so-called back-alley abortion clinic. Adoption was the only legal choice for parents who did not want to keep the child. But just because it was legal didn’t mean it was any less traumatic. My mother gave my older brother up for adoption, and it haunted her for the rest of her life.
While people like my brother were given up for adoption and raised in loving households, some adoptees do not grow up to be well-adjusted adults.
Here in Texas, our foster care system has been under large-scale scrutiny after a judge ruled in 2015 that it violated the rights of children due to problems like a lack of beds, negligence and poor living conditions.
What I see in this Texas prison are many men who tell of being raised by a sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent or family friend. Some even had to raise themselves. I also hear stories from men who were adopted only to get returned to the foster care system, over and over again, men who struggled to go to sleep at night from hunger or after a beating.
One man told me that he was placed in foster care with some distant relatives when he was 5. He was told right away that he was not wanted and he could run away at any time. He was told that if he wanted to eat, he had to allow the other boys in the home to abuse him.
Another man told me that when Child Protective Services found him, he was sitting behind a couch in a crackhouse with a full diaper and fractures in his arms, legs and skull. He was 2 years old. Upon entering the foster care system, this man was beaten, locked in a closet for days at a time and kept home from school.
In response to the Roe v. Wade reversal, my question to society is this: Why are we trying to fill the world with unwanted children? Are we trying to overrun our foster care and juvenile justice systems? Are we trying to ensure that prisons remain full?
I’ve heard the moral arguments — it’s a life, it’s murder. But so is the neglect and abuse of a child. I don’t see pro-lifers waving signs that say, “Feed and care for your child — even if you didn’t want them or plan for them.”
Take it from me, someone who interacts with victims of past abuse and neglect on a daily basis: The moralists need to consider the societal impact of millions of unwanted children before they decry abortion.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.