I’m watching an interesting program on PBS about a 16-year-old girl facing life in prison for shooting a man who had picked her up as a prostitute. As it recounts her life, we find out that her biological mother had her when she was 16. Her biological mother drank daily, then got into drugs. The biological mother has serious psychological issues and these run through the family, with several close relatives having committed suicide.
Someone asks the girl, Cyntoia, if she thinks her mother having her at 16 affected how she turned out. She said yes, not only did it affect her, but it affected all the people she hurt. She commented that not only is the baby being hurt by not being wanted, but many other people will be hurt by the “terror the baby will become.”
It seems very shortsighted to me when people focus on the importance of life, of bringing life into being, but then drop the ball, failing to provide the social services, families, structures and love that is needed to create a stable person. In Freakonomics, Steven Leavitt (SP) argues that the significant drop in the crime rate in the 1990s was not due to more police on the street, but instead by abortion becoming legal in 1974. When less unwanted babies were born starting in 1974, there were less criminals of adolescent and adult age in the 1990s.
I think it’s a compelling argument. You can’t take away individual responsibility for reproduction but then stick that individual responsibility back onto a person who is likely vulnerable and disadvantaged, expecting them to raise a solid citizen. It takes a village to raise any child. It takes an even larger and more committed village to raise an unwanted child.