The politics of potential

While I am steadfastly supportive of a woman's right to choose and her ability to be in control of her reproductive health decisions, I've always felt a delicate responsibility to be okay with abortion.

Not that I am okay with the process, but I don't believe I can judge another for making such a difficult decision (and if you don't think that a woman struggles with this decision, then you should really step outside of your bubble and actually talk to women - real women - who have had to make this choice).

I imagine how a woman who is faced with this decision feels when she first discovers she is pregnant. Instead of joyous and excited, she is overcome with fear, shame, despair, heartache, and overwhelm.

Imaging a 17-year-old facing the prospect of having to tell her parents.

A bright college student with a promising future, already suffering from the guilt and pain of being raped, coming to grips of having to give up on her education to take a minimum-wage job. 

A mom of 3 breaking the news to her overworked and unsupportive husband. 

It's not my place to tell them what to do. Nor is it yours. 

But the anti-abortion groups insist on telling a woman that she has only one option - only one way out of this impossible situation - and that is to have the baby.

Without concern for her health.

Without a care for her future.

Without a thought about her needs and desires.

One answer. That is it.

The reason they always give is that the "baby" deserves to live. And even when they are reminded that it isn't a baby, but a fetus, they insist that the fetus has the potential to be a baby and, therefore, killing it is murder.

They are correct. The fetus has the potential to grow into a baby. And if left alone - as in not aborted- it will be a baby that becomes a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager, a young adult, an adult, a senior. The potential is there.

And since there is potential, the babies must be protected. And the politicians must ban abortions to protect these potential humans.

That's where the politics of potential starts.

But my argument is this:

If they cared so much about potential, why are they working so hard at limiting the potential of living beings - you know, those people already living in our society?

If they cared about potential, why not fight as hard for those who are already alive?

The 4-year-old girl who has the potential of being the first person on Mars?

Instead, public funding for pre-K programs are being threatened as political leaders consider this vital service "babysitting". 

The 7-year-old boy who has the potential to be the next Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky?

Instead, physical education programs are being cut to make way for Common Core classes that do little to ensure the success (or health) of students.

The 14-year-old girl who has the potential to develop a cure for cancer?

Instead of supporting STEM programs for lower-income students, middle schools are being threatened by voucher programs and charter schools that benefit wealthy families.

The 17-year-old boy who has the potential to be a Supreme Court justice?

Instead, college has become out of reach to so many because the only way to afford it is by taking on huge amounts of student loan debt. And, instead, treating a young man that made a mistake as an adult in the justice system and sentencing him to a lifetime of prison. 

The 24-year-old woman who has the potential to be a business owner and employ hundreds of veterans?

Instead, she is faced with limited job opportunities, no access to affordable healthcare (especially if the Republicans get their way to destroy Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood). 

The 45-year-old man who has the potential to change careers so he can finally have his dream job?

Instead, he is dealing with a shrinking 401-K and is upside down in his mortgage, forcing him to stay at a job he hates, putting more pressure on his relationships (and this is the American dream, right?).

The 70-year-old woman that has the potential to inspire millions with her story of struggle and hope?

Instead, she is wondering how she can afford both food and medicine, and struggles to stay positive when the security of Social Security is always in question.

These people are living, breathing human beings - not clumps of cells - who have potential right now. 

What are we doing for them?