I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate—a CASA—for a foster child. This means that I am assigned by the juvenile court to a foster child whom I visit every month. I communicate with the child’s caseworker, parents, and relevant other parties, I attend hearings and submit reports to the judge. The child I advocate for has medical conditions and lives in a longterm care facility. They almost died of pneumonia a year ago, and would probably not survive COVID-19. Being disabled does not diminish this child’s worth. I am genuinely afraid for them.
Each day, I go online to check to see whether there have been cases of COVID-19 reported in my foster child’s facility. The first time a case was reported there, I panicked. I started to cry. I managed to get on the phone with the caseworker on the facility within minutes. It was an employee, they said. They didn’t have much contact with the residents. Okay. Back to checking every day, watching, waiting, worrying. And then there was another case. And another. More employees, they said. But how long will it only be employees who are infected?
I think about the foster child I advocate for every time I hear people call for us to get back to normal on the argument that it is mostly people in nursing homes who are dying and they would have died anyway. It is this child—and others in similar situations—that they are talking about. For me, there is a face. A person.
As far as I can tell, it is mostly conservatives who are saying this—that we need to get back to normal and that these people would have died anyway. This feels like whiplash; I grew up up in the pro-life movement, and I remember seeing us as champions of people with disabilities. We opposed abortion for reason of fetal abnormality; we wanted people with disabilities to have a chance at life, whatever that might look like for them.
Uh. No. My foster child’s health is currently stable; there is no “would have died anyway” absent catching a life-threatening disease or infection. And that is just what we are working to prevent, with all of the various precautions put in place. These deaths can be prevented. They should be prevented.
When did the foster I advocate for cease to matter to pro-lifers calling for a hasty, slipshod reopening and dismissing the deaths of those with preexisting conditions or living in longterm care facilities? I ask myself that sometimes.
This isn’t a gotcha game. It’s a call to humanity. When people say we need to get back to normal because deaths are concentrated in nursing homes and “those people were going to die anyway,” they are talking about real people. They are talking about people like the foster child I used to visit as often as I could, before the facility banned outside visitors as the COVID-19 outbreak got into full swing. I now visit the child I advocate for virtually—but I see the same smiles.
If people want to argue that this child’s life has no value and that the world would be just as well off without them, they should at least be consistent. Claiming to be “pro-life” while being cavalier about the very lives they claim to care about is not consistent; it is rank hypocrisy, and I am tired of it. So. Tired.
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