Who holds the responsibility for caring for children?

How have we gotten to a place where who actually has the responsibility to raise children has been assigned to someone other than the child’s parents?  Take a look at a comment from a previous post:

My problem with most conservatives is that their position is inconsistent. They are (typically) pro-life only until the baby is born. Then they are against providing any of the essentials that a human needs to survive, like food stamps, government housing, welfare, medicare, etc. Many women make the decision to get an abortion based on the fact that they cannot financially support a child. If that is the case and you are the type of person who says she should have the child anyway, then you damn well better support the programs that will allow that mother to provide for the child–or go a step further and start adopting some children.

My question to this commenter and to anyone willing to make this argument supporting elective abortion is this: Why do you hold society more responsible for the raising of unwanted children (by means of social programs funded by taxpayers) than you do the parents of the child?  Why aren’t you lecturing the irresponsible parents who decided to engage in the one behavior known to man which makes one pregnant who can’t afford to care for the child they produce like you do people who had nothing to do with it?  Then suggest that killing the child is a preferable alternative to placing the child for adoption or *gasp* actually taking responsibility as a parent for the child yourself. It’s presented like a hostage situation: either meet my demands or the kid gets it! How much more selfish does it get?


  1. Agreed. This is a red herring. A developing fetus isn’t capable of suffering or self-awareness, so it doesn’t have any rights. The mother has a physically and emotionally challenging pregnancy even if she opts for adoption, so the mother gets the only vote in whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy. More importantly, there are plenty of kids, developed, capable of suffering, and in need of love. Adopt them and recognize that ‘be fruitful and multiply’ is a dangerous idea in modern times.

    • Jason, that’s the most asinine thing I’ve heard all day. By your reasoning one could kidnap a woman and drug her completely unconscious, then rape and kill her, and only be morally culpable for the kidnapping and drugging. Asinine.

  2. So many “reasons” to justify abortion. And most could be used to justify murdering an infant or anyone at any age. Can we not start from “Do we or do we not value human life”?

    A human fetus, zygote, fertilized egg, is clearly human and is clearly alive. What else do we need to know IF in fact we value human life?

  3. John,

    I am happy to respond and have a dialogue regarding my comment, but let’s get the record straight. Even though my comment is a direct criticism of many pro-life advocates, it is in no way an “argument supporting elective abortion,” and therefore, your questions are off-base.

    The argument I made is that people who are pro-life should [at the very least] support the kind of programs that will help mothers to care for the children that might have otherwise been aborted.

    So let’s back up and start from there. I imagine you still have some similar questions, and I would like to answer them, but I want to give you a chance to re-formulate your questions or come up with other ones based on my actual argument before we proceed.
    The two general points you raised (society bearing responsibility and lecturing irresponsible parents) are easy for me to explain in a logical way, but I will not waste my time defending an entire argument that you have misinterpreted.

    Fair enough?

  4. Keep sifting for reality John, and one day you may realize that unwanted children need your advocacy outside of the womb just as much as they need it inside.

    • JP

      You’re missing the point. You and others offer a false dilemma, and a dishonest imposition. When you boil it down you are suggesting that either I support with my own monies welfare for children born to parents who didn’t want them or can’t care for them, or I get out of the way and allow the mothers to kill their children.

      How on earth does that sound even remotely civilized or compassionate? As I said in the post, it sounds like a hostage situation.

  5. “By your reasoning one could kidnap a woman and drug her completely unconscious, then rape and kill her, and only be morally culpable for the kidnapping and drugging. Asinine.” – Your moral reasoning is clearly broken. Suffering is not the sole concern. And your scenario is sterilized to allow for no possible suffering, but the attacker could still be culpable because of the likelihood of causing suffering during the attack.
    More importantly, the grown woman has an interest in future life that has been violated, and a future life that does not include rape or other attacks. A fetus has no such interest. The analogy also breaks down in terms of the interests of the woman who wants a full and happy life that doesn’t include pregnancy right then.
    And should your drugged and raped woman be further burdened with mandatory pregnancy and parenthood should the attacker fail to kill her?

  6. With regard to JB’s response to JP,
    No need to take tax/welfare money for unsupported children if they are never born. Christians won’t have to find funding for the morality they legislate. Why hold innocent women hostage on behalf of undeveloped fetuses who literally couldn’t care less? Ending an unwanted pregnancy is a win for everyone who has the capacity to care.

  7. “you are suggesting that either I support with my own monies welfare for children born to parents who didn’t want them or can’t care for them, or I get out of the way and allow the mothers to kill their children.”

    Yes! That is exactly what I am saying. Help to provide for God’s less fortunate children through charity. But that is not exactly a hostage situation in my opinion; I am happy to help innocent children after they are born.

  8. J. Palmer, part of your problem is that assumption that, because conservatives and pro-lifers tend not to support government handouts, they don’t support post-born children and their mothers. That is rediculously false. If a mother needs help, there are numerous volunteer organizations and social networks that are willing to step in and help. It is NOT the government’s job to do that, and the more money government takes from its citizenry, the less money they have available to help those around them in need. Government run programs are also notoriously wasteful and inefficient, with more people falling through the cracks then through locally run organizations, which can be flexible and know local needs for better then any beaurocracy could.

    I’m reminded of a shelter my MIL started for abused women in her small town. As an RN, she saw too many abused women coming into the emergency room with nowhere to turn, so she mobilized volunteers, found resources and started a shelter. There were times when my (future) husband, a burly teenager at the time, accompanied her as bodyguard to escort women from dangerous situations at odd hours (something that made him less then popular when the abusive husbands were also the fathers of his classmates). The program was so successful, it caught the attention of the government, which stepped in and took it over. All the original volunteers ended up having to leave, and now the remaining program is a shambles that barely manages to give any real help to women in need. The same thing happened with the local food bank.

    To say that pro-lifers only care for babies before they are born is rediculous. There are volunteer armies of pro-lifers providing everything from pre-natal care, helping women get the necessities they need for their babies, helping them find apartments, get post-natal care, and eventually find jobs. Many also foster and adopt children from crisis pregnancies themselves, as well as helping women who can’t keep their babies find adoptive parents for their babies.

    None of which is relevant as to whether or not it is acceptable to kill a child, simply because its mother might not have a social network to help her.

    As for this part, “A developing fetus isn’t capable of suffering or self-awareness, so it doesn’t have any rights. ” That is absolutely ludicrous. We know full well developing fetuses feel pain and they respond to stimuli. Self-awareness is something that would be almost impossible to measure, however it is not relevant, any more then it is relevant to an adult in a coma. Killing someone is not justified by the fact that we can’t tell if they’re conscious, aware or thinking at the moment.

    I find it absolutely bizarre that people can make and believe statements like yours – especially if it’s coming from women who’ve already had children – while at the same time pregant women, their spouses and other children they may have are encouraged to talk, sing or read to their babies, because it’s known that babies will recognise the voices they heard in utero after they are born. My husband used to play with my older daughter before she was born, and she would play back, responding to his pushing on different areas of my belly by pushing back. I had to put a stop to it, because she was rolling around too much to reach the different areas he was pushing! There was no doubt that she was aware and responding to external stimuli.

  9. Kunoici:

    You make some good points, and we obviously disagree on what the role of government (local or federal) should be. That is okay, and I think there are common sense solutions that would make us both happy–like dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to charities. You are also correct that government problems can be wasteful, but sometimes this “waste” that you speak of is actually money that goes toward paying workers’ salaries and wages–so it may not be quite as wasteful as you think.

    As for the comment you attribute to me about a developing fetus, that was someone else. I do believe that an unborn baby has thoughts and feelings; that is scientific, not philosophical.

  10. Okay so I have to comment on this thread because it seems so convoluted. To start let me explain my leanings so that I am not accused of things that are way off base as it looks like many are on this thread. Here is a quick rundown:

    -I like small government – it empowers the church and the individual
    – I like the pro-life position
    – I am a conservative to moderate, evangelical Christian and former minister, current speaker and author

    Knowing these things and knowing that John and many contributors are Christians, will you please give me an explanation (preferably with citation) of your interpretation of James 1:27? This book is not disputed and I am not aware of any cultural contextualization argumentation.

    Next I agree with J. Palmer, you don’t have to even be pro-abortion to believe that the burden of caring for the helpless and marginalized falls on a caring and compassionate society. I can be extremely upset with parents and still feel that children should be taken care of. There is no obvious, logical dichotomy here.

    You can also believe that there needs to be reform in the means by which we care for children on welfare and still believe that the children should be taken care of. Some of my libertarian leanings are based on the fact that I wish the church would take up her call to take care of the marginalized and not lean on the government, but I also understand those who say that the church fails to do so and the government provides a means of accomplish a KOG initiative.

    Finally, while I am pro-life, it is important to not undervalue the complicated nature of this issue. Some pro-life supporters need to spend some time reading JAMA (the Journal of American Medical Association) and different commentaries on the relevant scripture passages. As a theologian with a father who has 30 years of M.D. experience I can site many an anecdotal evidence to the complicated nature of the issue. We do a disservice to society when we down play the complexity of the issue even if we decide that conception is the point at which an eternal soul becomes reality.

    I realize this is an emotional issue, but we should take a breath, examine, and proclaim truth with grace and a determination to understand the perspective of those with opposing positions.

    -Andrew B. Heard

    • Andrew

      Are children still in the custody of their parents, orphans?

      • I don’t know? That was one of the reasons I thought the thread was convoluted. I think you could make different legislative proposals from a Christian perspective for children that are still in the custody of their parents although it is hard.

        My brother in law was the pastor of a church where there was a child who lived across the street at a hotel where his mother did crack and he sat outside while she had sex for money each day. Eric would pick the boy up and take him to church, pay for youth camp etc. The problem was that she defiantly abuse the welfare system. Reform in these situations is needed although it is so complicated that I don’t have an easy answer.

        The orphan question seems much more straight forward. Would you agree?

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