“Do we really want to rescue babies from abortion only to have them grow up in broken or abusive homes? What if the child gets adopted into a drug-infested family? What if the child is born with Down syndrome or some other deformity? We could save a child’s life only to condemn that child to a life of struggle and pain.”
You might be surprised to know how many times I hear questions like these posed by people who consider themselves pro-life. The questions aren’t always phrased so bluntly, but the underlying question is the same: “Would a child be better off dead than alive?”
It is an honest inquiry that deserves our careful response.
For years, a friend of mine who is a social worker lived and breathed the underbelly of social services. She witnessed firsthand the neglect, apathy, and horror that sometimes came with her caseload. Her experiences led her to conclude that the children in these families would have been better off if they’d never been born. Their lives of abuse, squalor, and little to no opportunity were lives not worth living. These children, most of whom were born out of wedlock and had no father figure, were doomed to a miserable existence. And my friend’s experiences with such families led her to conclude that these hurting children would have been better off dead.
If we are going to stand boldly for life, then we must address this commonly asked question: “Would a child be better off dead than alive?” Here are a few responses to consider:
1. This question presumes that we know the child’s future before he or she is even born. However, we cannot predict what that future will be—just as we can’t predict our own futures. To ask this question about an unborn child is to make presumptions that we cannot even make about ourselves. Terrible events may happen to any one of us. Does that mean we shouldn’t have been born just because those things might happen? And even if they should happen, do those terrible things make our lives any less valuable?
2. This question presumes that a difficult childhood devalues the life of the child. I certainly don’t wish that any child be born into adverse circumstances. Abuse, addiction, neglect, and disease are terrible challenges for anyone to face. However, I can’t think of a friend, coworker, family member, or acquaintance of mine who doesn’t face challenges in their lives—some of them quite severe. I certainly wouldn’t advocate ending their lives just because they’re having a difficult time.
My social worker friend would argue that a family facing an unplanned pregnancy might have a higher probability of birthing a child into difficult circumstances. But America is full of adults who have overcome the difficult family circumstances of their childhood and risen to positions of influence.
3. This question also presumes that death is superior to life. Our society seems very comfortable with killing an unborn child, assuming that the afterlife is better than the current life. (You’d be surprised how many abortion-determined women openly tell us they would rather kill their child than risk the unknowns of adoption.) While many faiths hold that unborn children and infants are ushered into a positive afterlife, those faiths do not advocate intentionally causing one’s death in order to find out if it is true. When an adult voluntarily elects death over life—assuming death is better than life—we call it a tragedy. But when parents voluntarily take the life of their unborn child—assuming death is better than life—we call it a right and a choice.
The logic in asking the question “Would a child be better off dead than alive?” is rarely asked in that form. Instead, we hear about children living in foster care, abusive homes, or poverty, and we are then challenged to justify bringing additional children into the world while these injustices exist. Nevertheless, this question is indicative of the societal mindset that devalues human life. And it also leads to an inevitable conclusion—humans have the power to take the life of another human at will. That is exactly what abortion is.
Online for Life is aligned with life-affirming centers across the country that provide a circle of support around men and women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. We work with centers whose mission to come alongside women in crisis reaches deep into the community. Through ties with churches, social services, and the community, hurting men and women are directed to people who will love, support, and help them in their time of need. And although we cannot promise to remove every hardship that may afflict an unborn child once he or she is born, we do our best to alleviate some of them through intentional support and sound counsel.
Consider this: even if these children are born into less than ideal circumstances, are their lives any less valuable than yours? Than mine? Would it be better if they weren’t given the opportunity to overcome the challenges their lives might present?
Online for Life unapologetically stands for life—all lives—and we invite you to stand with us.