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captureI am admittedly on the fence on the abortion issue.  I lean pro-life.  That is to say, in theory, when the idea is considered apart from the practical realities of life, the pro-life position is the perfect ideal.  However, the real world realities leave me burdened with a feeling of responsibility that if I’m going to tell people they need to give birth to all their unwanted children, then I need to consider what  I’m going to do to ensure these children are given the love, nurture and quality of life that every human being deserves.  A “right to life” argument that doesn’t consider the right to life after birth seems to be in the realm of cruel and unusual — inhumane.

The following excerpt is from Christina McKenna’s, “The Misremembered Man”. While it’s fiction, true stories exactly like this are repeated daily by the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands all over the world in orphanages, foster homes, and other “alternative” living arrangements for the unwanted kids of the world.  It begs the question, what is our social responsibility?

Excerpt follows:

“Re­mind me why you’re here, Eighty-six?”

“Be­cause…’ He swal­lowed back the tears. “Be­cause I’m bad and me mammy d-didn’t want me…and she put me h-here be­cause…’

He stopped, ter­ri­fied. Her un­blink­ing eyes and doughy face made him think of hooded fig­ures in the for­est, death and buried bones, a head­stone-crowded dark­ness.

“Stop that at once!” She slapped him across the face, grabbed him by the shoul­der and trailed him to a bench set along the wall. He im­me­di­ately scram­bled up onto it.

“Stand up!” They were at eye level. “Do you know why your sis­ter is not here, Eighty-Six?”

He shut his eyes tight. He did not want to say the word. But an­other blow to his cheek brought the an­swer she re­quired.

“Di…died, Sis­ter.”

“She died. That’s right: she died.” She spat the awful word into his face. “Your mother put the pair of you in a shop­ping bag and dumped you on our doorstep. Your sis­ter was al­ready dead. We saved you.” The boy was look­ing down at his feet, the tears falling freely now. “Only for us you would have died too, you un­grate­ful, greedy, thiev­ing lit­tle devil.”

She pulled him off the bench and flung him across the floor. He col­lided with the bucket, send­ing the water every­where. He ended up sprawled on his knees in the dirty pud­dle, un­able to right him­self.

“Now look what you’ve done.” She un­hooked the strap at her side.

He screamed and dou­bled up under the lash­ing leather, be­liev­ing that the tighter he held him­self, the less pain he’d feel, an in­stinc­tive yet use­less tac­tic he’d used many times be­fore.

Then she stopped. He heard her rapid breath­ing and slowly un­curled him­self into the full, throb­bing af­ter­math. He re­trieved the damp cloth and at­tempted to soak up the “sin” he’d just been found guilty of.

“I’m not fin­ished with you yet, Eighty-Six.” She hauled him to his feet again. “I’m wait­ing, Eighty-Six. Your mother put you here be­cause what?”

“Be­cause she want…id, w-w-wan­tid you…y-y-y-you to make me…make me good, Sis­ter?” His whole body shook as his words slid every­where. He stopped and swal­lowed deeply.

“And if you’re not good and you don’t do your work, what will hap­pen?” Her face was a mask of dis­dain. Sweat misted her brow. She grinned, lips peel­ing back from dingy teeth.

“God will puniss…pun­ish me, and me ma…me mammy won’t come for me.”

“Cor­rect, lit­tle man.” She straight­ened up. “Now get to it or there’ll be no bed tonight and no break­fast in the morn­ing.”

She marched to the door, then halted. He set im­me­di­ately to work, fear­ful she might come back to beat him again.

“Eighty-Six, change the water when it gets dirty. Do you hear? If you can’t see to the bot­tom of the bucket it needs to be changed. You un­der­stand?”

“Yes, Sis­ter.”

And with that she left him in the joy­less hall with the bucket, the brush and his small heart pound­ing, a trail of dread and dan­ger bat­ter­ing in her wake.

Two hours later, he was fin­ished and lay in the dark­ness in the crowded dor­mi­tory, three rows, ninety-six beds in all. Ninety-six hun­gry boys, hun­gry for love and hun­gry for nour­ish­ment, and their sleep dis­rupted for lack of both. Ninety-six re­jects with no gifts or grace, on whom a cloud­less sun would never shine.

They were all under ten years, yet none of them knew their age, or what birth­days meant, or what pre­sents were for, or that Santa Claus came at Christ­mas. In their long years in the or­phan­age, they’d never been hugged, never been smiled at, never eaten meat or used a knife and fork; they did not know the plea­sure of bathing in warm water, or the feel of cot­ton sheets against the skin.

Their only crime was that their moth­ers had died, or been too poor to keep them, or too fright­ened to re­sist the forces of power and au­thor­ity that deemed them unfit for the ma­ter­nal role. Each child was pay­ing for the “love” that had brought him into being: a love that in the “holy” eyes of the chil­dren’s “car­ers” was tainted, be­cause it had come from lesser be­ings—poor peo­ple.