Every homicide justified by self-defense has one thing in common: fear.
"I was alone."
"I feared for my life."
"I was afraid they would hurt my family."
The person who shoots in self-defense -- oftentimes, a police officer -- warrants his actions by describing a genuine experience of fear, even when additional information reveals an unarmed victim, sometimes without criminal history or criminal intent. An innocent victim.
Fear, even unfounded fear, is used regularly as justification for homicides committed in self-defense.
Just as innovative police courses now empower officers to better negotiate fear, our society needs to better resource parents -- women, in particular -- to navigate the genuine fears of raising children in America.
Our society needs to better resource parents -- women, in particular -- to navigate the genuine fears of raising children in America.
My friend is a counselor in an abortion clinic.
She walks the here-and-now with women who just read a positive pregnancy test, and it's a crisis.
I believe that positive pregnancy tests should always and everywhere be a reason to celebrate.
She's held women's hands who know the fear of being one rent check short of homeless.
I say we can resource for this mom from within our parish. Maybe someone has a room to rent?
She's listened, as many women share their fears. Oftentimes, they have other children. They fiercely love their children, sacrificing much for them. And yet, in this unfamiliar situation, they are experiencing genuine fear.
I'll lose my job.
I can't afford daycare.
No one can help me.
If I don't work, my other children can't eat.
I was raped.
I don't have health insurance.
I can't raise a special needs child.
My husband is abusive.
My parents will kick me out.
I'm afraid my child would just be lost and abused in a broken foster care system.
I push, in response, that we're working to change all of that. We can network. Maybe a family can help with childcare. Maybe a local doctor will help with prenatal care. There are food pantries! We will petition the legislature for better support for kids with special needs. Yes, our state needs better, more accessible, more affordable healthcare. I've heard families say that they'll personally adopt children who need a home, if the only other choice is abortion. I'll find them.
But all of my stammering is future tense and conditional. It's about stuff I want to see happen. It's about platforms I support that empower women who are mothers by removing legitimate fears of parenthood.
This is now. And even though the child within her is unarmed and innocent, this mother is afraid. She has no back-up, she feels she has no other choice, and she's ready to pull the trigger.
And even though the child within her is unarmed and innocent, this mother is afraid.
If only we could remove the fear from this situation, so she's no longer afraid of the baby she carries.
She needs job protections, income stability, affordable child care, advocacy for sexual assault victims, community support whose actions are as loud as their promises, affordable and accessible maternity care, pediatric care, improved special needs services for children, affordable housing, a reformed foster care system...
Abortion doesn't need to be a homicide of self-defense.
We can help remove the fear.