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anti-abortion is not pro-life

The nastiness of this political season makes me think about what words really mean. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be pro-life, and I've come to the realization that to be against abortion is not what makes someone "pro-life." Of course both sides have their preferred semantics - those in favor of a woman's legal right to have an abortion (I admit, myself included) don't like "pro-abortion," but rather "pro-choice." Then those who are opposed to women having a legal right to have an abortion prefer "pro-life" to "anti-abortion."

My own position, that of being pro-choice, is definitely not the same as being pro-abortion. I'm not in favor of abortion; I am in favor a woman's right to seek and obtain a safe, legal abortion. I'm also in favor of numerous initiatives and programs that work to stop a woman from being in the position of making that choice in the first place. Better education, better access to birth control, better support for single moms or struggling families, all help to decrease the number of abortions.

On the other hand, I find myself taking issue with the "pro-life" terminology. In general it seems to be applied to people who oppose abortion, and they are stating that they are more in favor of "life" than the death of a baby through abortion. Well heck I'm more in favor of life than death any day of the week.

But there is more to being pro-LIFE than abortion. When babies are not aborted, what happens to them? They are born to mothers who either don't want them or want them but do not have the means to care for them adequately. "The option of adoption!" they say. As if handing over your child to someone is else just the easiest thing in the world. I can't even fathom the courage and pain a woman endures when she makes that choice. I have only experienced giving birth to a child who had died, and having to leave his little body behind at the hospital and walk away was quite possibly the hardest thing I will ever do in my life. My instincts screamed at me to go back for him, to lay down with him, and for weeks afterwards my arms literally ached to hold his weight until, in futility, I tried to find things that weighed the same as he did to take away the pain. I am sure this is a blip compared to the aching agony a mother feels after giving her baby to another family for adoption.

So who takes care of the babies? If they are kept by a mother who can't care for them appropriately, the government often has to step in and assist with food, housing, and medical care. So we all foot the bill, vicariously through our taxes.

In the worst cases, the children are so badly mistreated or neglected that the government actually has to come and take them away from their families. This is what has spurred my thought processes a little bit - we've been fostering a ten year old boy for two months now. I added up how much our state spends on this child being in foster care - between education, clothing, medical care, and other necessities, it is well over $3,000 per month. That does not even include the salaries paid to his therapists, case manager, or anyone else involved in his life.

Pro-life is stepping up to help care for these kids. Not sweet tiny newborns, but the big kids who are coming from God-knows-what situation with God-knows-what baggage. Pro-life is being a foster parent. Pro-life is becoming a CASA. Pro-life is the teachers and school staff who go out of their way for the kids coming from the less-than-ideal (to put it mildly) home situations. Pro-life is seeing it all the way through. It's easy enough to be opposed to abortion, but it's far harder to be truly pro-life.

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