October 2, 2015

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Protecting the unwanted children in today’s world

David SilerAlthough it did not get a great deal of attention, Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill in May to try to reduce the infant mortality rate in Indiana.

The general assembly allocated $8 million for the first fiscal year of the program, which started on July 1, and $5.5 million for the second year.

Along with many others, I applaud this effort.

Yet during this Respect Life Month of October, I find myself pondering how we can do so much to protect a child when they are wanted by the mother, but we do so little to protect the child if they are not wanted.

In addition to this new infant mortality reduction bill, we have program after program to protect children who are wanted by the mother.

We have programs such as the March of Dimes that strive to reduce birth defects. There are pre-natal care programs available, regardless of ability to pay. And there is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income women. WIC also offers assistance to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Once a child is born, we have Child Protective Services to respond to cases of abuse and neglect, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana to educate and prevent abuse of every kind, First Steps to provide early intervention for children with special needs, and on and on.

So just say the words, “I want this child,” and the community will step up and do whatever it takes to bring a healthy baby into the world, support the parents in their role of raising a healthy child, and even step in and take the child away if they abuse the child.

But just say the words, “I don’t want this child,” and we step aside and say that it is OK to end its life. If the child is not wanted, our laws would indicate that we really don’t care at all.

I concede that there is somewhat little that we can do if a biological mother—and/or father—does not want a child due to being conceived at an inconvenient time in their lives, but I can say with complete certainty that the community wants the child.

This is evidenced by the burgeoning lists of couples desperately waiting to adopt.

The matter of “choice” is bandied about around this issue, but can’t we just say that we, the community, choose these children?

If the real issue at the heart of the matter is the wanting of a child, can’t the “want” of the community suffice?

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

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