Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Choose Children: It's Time for the Pro-Life Movement to Adopt a Wider Stance

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Choose Children: It's Time for the Pro-Life Movement to Adopt a Wider Stance

Article excerpt

Pro-life bumper stickers have always made me uncomfortable.

They don't make me uncomfortable because I'm pro-abortion. I agree with the church's teachings on the sanctity of life at every stage. I do not believe in the death penalty or euthanasia and rarely think war is the only answer to an international problem. Rather, my discomfort with some aspects of the pro-life movement in general, and the Catholic piece of it in particular, arises from my perspective as a foster and adoptive parent. I see too little of a connection between the pro-life movement and the foster and adoptive community.

Each year in Milwaukee, the city in which our family lives, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 children who need placement outside of their homes because of allegations of neglect or abuse by their parents. Each year there are about 900 active, licensed foster homes in Milwaukee able to receive those children. The rest of the foster children are placed with unlicensed relatives or in group homes. In all medium-to-large cities with substantial populations of children in foster care, many families who step forward to foster are too often in marginal circumstances themselves--without the resources necessary to meet the needs of the foster children placed with them. Children then are moved from home to home as foster parents find they cannot handle the behavioral issues of the traumatized child. Healthy, financially stable families who would be able to provide a safe home for foster children often look at the emotional complexity of the task and decide they are not able to commit to the undertaking.

While I understand not every Catholic family is called to foster or adopt, a Catholic pro-life identity must include a highly visible commitment to those children who were not aborted but whose current life of neglect and abuse leaves them vulnerable and very at risk.

The pro-life voice is well-known in the Catholic community. Some Catholics vote according to this issue singularly. But what if we could become equally well-known for our commitment to providing safe families for foster children? What if the Catholic pro-life community became conversant in trauma-informed care so as to better minister to young victims of abuse and neglect? If alongside their work to change legislation regarding abortion, pro-life groups would work within the foster care arena and the movement would gain necessary credibility.

A commitment to foster care, when put next to a commitment to end abortion, demonstrates an understanding of the complexity of the abortion question. …

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