Politics & Policy

Impossible Task

Explaining abortion to kids.

Kids ask the darndest things. Especially when they hit six, seven, eight years old. That’s when parents get to tackle, “Where did I come from?” and “How do babies get here?” As any parent (and anyone who’s watched a sitcom on TV over the past 50 years) knows, these parent/child facts-of-life talks can be awkward, wonderful, and even comical.

”Was I ever this little?” They hold their little fingers together to show a tiny size.

Yes, you were once. And they’re delighted at the concept that they were once just “this little.”

So how do we explain to them that some people consider a developing baby “this little” to be only a clump of cells, a pregnancy condition, disposable and forgettable?

For kids, abortion would never be a choice that they could conceive of on their own. Not that children are sheltered these days. They know parents can die unexpectedly, like on 9/11. Sadly, they even know children can die. But by choice?

How do you explain this to a kid?

Kids can understand this: a woman so desperately needs help that, in an act of love, she gives up a baby to someone else who can provide for the baby. Or maybe there is a sad accident and a baby needs new parents.

How does abortion fit into this picture? What if the pregnancy is inconvenient? Or the woman is too poor?

Children, who tend to see an order to the universe might ask: “Then why did God give that person a baby?” And that’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a challenge and they expect an answer. And they won’t be satisfied with interpretations of reproductive health, rights, or choice. For them, it’s all about babies.

Kids don’t want to hear about a woman’s right to choose. As far as they know, mothers were put here to care for them (moms don’t even need uninterrupted time in the bathroom) and it’s not about what makes a woman’s life easier.

And with so many women these days exploring fertilization techniques, many children probably know at least one woman who is essentially asking doctors to help “put a baby in her tummy.” But how does the woman who doesn’t want the baby in her tummy fit in here? Do we explain that a doctor can take it out so it isn’t alive anymore?

This is a moot point, one might protest. Why would adults — whether they support or oppose abortion — even venture to explain the concept to children?

Several reasons. First of all, abortion is about children in the most-acute way.

Next, are we prepared to simply hand these same kids condoms when they hit puberty, implying that we don’t believe they are smart enough to do anything else except go out and engage in risky behaviors?

Finally, in a few short years, these children will be able to have abortions, without parental consent if a judge deems them to be mature enough. So before the judge gets to make the decisions for our children, while we still have them in our control, we’d better figure out a way to explain this 30-year old decision.

Is it our pride or our shame? Bet a kid could tell you.

Susan Konig is a journalist who writes frequently for National Review. She is the author of Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My ...


The Latest