Unwanted and unworthy? Dobbs babies demand recognition

What does a “right” to abortion mean? Last year, on the first anniversary of the death of Roe v. Wade, I wrote an analytic poem critiquing the cruel prejudices lurking behind this common progressive claim. Now, on the anniversary of the Dobbs victory, this poem has been published in a broader collection critiquing the morality of progressive culture.

The poem reflects on the existential questions surrounding the morality of abortion. What does it really mean to claim women have a fundamental right to kill their offspring? Behind pro-choice euphemisms is a claim of vast power. And despite the impact on their existence, the voices of unwanted children are rarely heard.

Dobbs babies are never the subject of progressive compassion. They are discussed like objects, not people.

Prior to Dobbs, this silence made sense. Children rarely survive abortions, and the few who do receive meager mainstream attention. But Dobbs did more than overturn the Supreme Court’s “egregiously wrong” decision in Roe. The court shattered the illusion of progressive compassion, exposing prejudices commonplace among society’s “tolerant and kind.”

It did this by creating a new social class: Dobbs babies. These children owe their birth to five justices whose ruling resulted in the closure of abortion facilities across the nation. But for the decision, Dobbs babies would be extinct.

Unwanted is unworthy

Prejudice against unwanted children has long hidden behind the guise of love. Planned Parenthood describes abortion as “compassion care.” Famous Hollywood actresses, such as Anne Hathaway, refer to abortion as “another word for mercy.” And a CNN anchor implied the struggle to care for disabled children is a good reason to abort.

Dobbs babies expose this prejudice.

The spike in unwanted births created a class of unwanted children progressives quickly and overtly dehumanized. These babies were born because post-Dobbs trigger laws protected their lives.

What messages will they hear about their worth?

According to progressive morality, their lives are the result of a human rights violation. The guilt of this original sin will be nurtured through a progressive culture preaching that an ideal world would not include their existence.

The lack of compassion shown toward these children by pro-choice Americans is shocking. Following the Dobbs ruling, a UCLA professor described unwanted children as a “death sentence.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement declaring abortion an “essential component of women’s health care.” The American Psychological Association called on Joe Biden to swiftly work to “protect abortion services,” and the American Medical Association referred to the decision as an “assault on reproductive healthcare.”

Selective compassion

But Dobbs babies are never the subject of progressive compassion. They are discussed like objects, not people.

In These Times featured a story of a Mississippi woman who was denied an abortion after Dobbs. With his mother unable to travel out of state, Kingsley’s life was protected by Mississippi’s trigger law.

In this story, Kingley’s birth is explicitly mourned. It highlights his mother’s pain as her life plans fall apart when she can’t get the “abortion she needed” and is “forced to give birth” and raise her son.

Kingsley’s humanity is left unacknowledged. The progressive cup of compassion has its limits, and Dobbs babies are the only identity group it is socially acceptable to wish did not exist.

This highlights the absurdity of the progressive claim to moral superiority. The same movement that complains of “microaggressions” and chastises conservatives for bigotry against marginalized groups fails to see the hypocrisy of denying the humanity of innocent children conceived in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Progressives, it seems, possess immense levels of unresolved cognitive dissonance.

Scrutinizing progressive prejudice

The time has come to scrutinize the prejudices held dear by progressive culture. Why must children bear the burden of proving their worth to a culture that despises their existence? How can the same movement that chants “silence is violence” hold fast to beliefs that dehumanize untold numbers of children due to the arbitrary circumstances of their conception?

The limits of progressive “love” and “tolerance” must be tested. A balanced, rational conversation about the competing moral claims in the political and cultural realm demands that society contend with the cost of progressive beliefs and the unseen victims of its ideologies, because unfortunately, the harm of progressive ideas extends far beyond the child victims shackled with the shame of unwanted status.

With Roe in the rearview mirror, we must discuss the Kingsleys of the world. Their pain results directly from our dominant moral philosophies, and these children will question their dignity from the earliest days of their lives.

Yet it is critical that they know some valued their births, even while others mourned. Our response to their pain will speak to our collective capacity to engage with the silent suffering of the children buried in the abortion controversy.

Those who value life need not fear encountering the pain of Dobbs babies, for in the pro-life community, their value was never disputed.

But for progressives, the Dobbs baby is a threat. How will those who champion compassion and view offense as a cardinal sin respond to the pain of a child who bears the scarlet letter of an unwanted conception that could not be reversed by the “right” to abort?

There is a price to progressive prejudice, and it is borne by the most vulnerable among us.

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