I wondered when the subject of children on protest marches would arise. More specifically, the subjective value-judgements commentators inevitably attach to it. Breda might’ve been left cold by the perceived connotations of the gesture, as is her wont; I just thought it was extraordinarily naff. But I’m sure she’d expect nothing less from an irresponsible pro-choicer like myself who brought her own daughter on the march last year.
“Children cannot rationalise abortion in the way adults can. They cannot rationalise taking away a life as a solution.”
As statements of fact, the first will likely be met with broad agreement by anyone who has ever spent a few minutes of their lifetime dabbling in logic. The second will prompt many to ask for clarifications on the meaning of life, whether that includes the life of a sentient woman, the solution to what exactly, and other plentiful well-worn question marks frequently posed by my 4 year-old and her mates over play-doh.
Breda’s contention is not that children shouldn’t be brought on marches – she brought her own on pro-life rallies – it’s that pro-choice marches are essentially an exercise in compromising the emotional security of those children attending. Where the use of such slogans as ‘chosen child’ is an unequivocal demonstration of how their mother’s love is conditional, and there but for the almighty power of her (presumably) blithe judgement, their own lives might very well have been taken away before they began.
Tell me about it, Breda. Sure our wee one has been milking that one for years, and will continue to do so until it dawns on her around 13 that she didn’t actually ask to be born.
“No parent loves perfectly, but babies bring out a fierce protectiveness in us. The urge to protect the weakest and most helpless is primal. Or at least it used to be.”
Or at least it is for us pro-life parents, in short. As a pro-life protesting parent, Breda is satisfied with the phased exposure to the principles of the pro-life movement undertaken with her own children. Pro-life protestors, it would seem, have a monopoly on ensuring responsible engagement of children in forms of protest.
“I told them that abortion was a word that they had to trust me to worry about and not to explain until they were much older. “
I’m not sure I feel so confident. When it comes to protecting the innocence of my own girl, and balancing that with the cultivation of a sense of justice and an incremental introduction the complexities and messiness of life, there is much I won’t be able to guard her from. But such is life.
In time, she will come to learn there are few areas in life that can be unequivocally defined by a single moral perspective. That those holding competing views will always be the last to see their own hypocrisy. And, just as Breda marches alongside children brandishing placards showing foetal remains; the rest of us take our place next to our own diversity of bedfellows and march onward in the hope of reaching a fair destination.
For now, I’m reasonably certain that instilling an awareness of the existence of public disgruntlement, unhappiness among women about the rules that govern them, and their corresponding entitlement to use the public highway to highlight that, will not compromise our girl’s sense of security. She’s been doing it effectively in the hallway since the time she could walk.
What do we want?
Our mothers to be trusted
When do we want it?
Er can we have our crisps now?