Since I was born in the summer of 1974, 2012 marks the first year that I can run for president. That does not mean I am announcing my candidacy. Call it my mid-life crisis, but I do at times dream about my stump speech. The truth is that someone from my generation will soon occupy the White House, and I can’t help but wonder what legacy this person — and others from my generation — will leave.
You could say that my generation — those born in the early to late ’70s — is late Generation X. However, I think a more relevant description is the Roe v. Wade generation. I have never known an America without legalized abortion. By virtue of the law, I am alive because my mom — not my father! — decided to give me life. It would have been lawful for her — although due to her faith not even a consideration — to terminate my existence up to moments before my time of delivery for no other reason than inconvenience (see Doe v. Bolton’s broad definition of “health of the mother.”). Many in the Roe v. Wade generation lost siblings to abortion; some actually survived abortions; and, of course, some of us have opted for abortion ourselves. Doubtless, we have all been affected by a lifetime of legal abortion.
As technology improves, it’s increasingly difficult for us to deny the existence of a developing baby in a mother’s womb. The “it’s my body” defense of abortion is on the verge of obsolescence. We are also able to sustain life at a much earlier age, thus challenging our 1970s perception of viability. Little Amillia Taylor was born at 22 weeks and weighed only 10 ounces. Four months after her birth, she was able to go home, weighing a healthy four pounds. What will my generation do with the mounting evidence that life begins at conception?
Opinions have swirled about whether our country should subsidize abortion. Closely linked to this very important debate is the question of how our newly created government-controlled health care system will treat the elderly — a term that will soon describe my parents. As the Baby Boomers who ushered in abortion on demand enter their sunset years, how will my generation treat them? I fear we will judge their increasingly fragile lives as inconvenient and unworthy of investing the time and money to protect. We may even see ending their lives as an act of compassion. We’re sparing them from pain; they, in turn, are saved from an embarrassing dependency on us.
Not surprisingly, according to a recent Gallup poll, seniors are most skeptical of government-run healthcare, believing by a margin of three to one that the Democratic measures passed under Obamacare would reduce rather than expand their access to health care. They are also more likely to say that current reform measures would worsen their own medical care. Regardless of the impact of Obamacare, it will be up to the Roe v. Wade generation to decide the value of our parents’ lives.
In this country presently, a child is born because a child is wanted. Life at its earliest stages is not seen as inherently precious. Its value is determined by the woman bearing it. Therefore, under the law, I was born because my mother perceived my life as worthy. To suggest that does not affect the way we view all human life is short-sighted and irresponsible.
The Roe v. Wade generation will make crucial decisions about the value of life. We are presented with a challenge: to perpetuate the notion that human life is only worth preserving if it meets certain expectations or to renounce the legacy of our parents and to begin to respect all life from conception to natural death.
If I were elected president, I know what I would do.
Heather E. Cirmo is an associate with BlueSkin Solutions.