By Judd Garrett
East St. Louis, Illinois, 14-year-old Mary finds out she is pregnant by her 16-year-old boyfriend, Alfred. She and Alfred were scared to death. It was an impossible situation. Neither had even graduated high school. East St. Louis was a poverty-stricken city, infested with drugs and crime. This child growing inside of Mary did not have a chance in life. Every argument for abortion easily applied to Mary’s pregnancy. Every one of life’s cards were already stacked against him; born to a 14-year-old unwed mother, living in poverty with drugs and crime all around, his only hope was a failing school system. The most logical thing to do would be to end the pregnancy, stop the life of this child just as it was beginning.
But this was 1959, 14 years before the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v Wade, making abortion a protected right in this country. If this pregnancy had occurred after 1973, the practical thing to do, the logical thing to do, would be for Mary to visit the local planned parenthood, and “take care” of her pregnancy so she could live a “normal” life.
Instead, Mary and Alfred had the baby, and faced life as two scared teenage parents. Alfred Junior was born in January of 1960. Their family rallied around the young couple, the parents and grandparents helped them out as they married and grew their family. Two years later Alfred’s sister Jacqueline, named after our first lady at the time, Jacqueline Kennedy, was born.
They lived a hard-scrabble life. They never had much in their home other than love and each other. They went to school every day, and church every Sunday. They were taught to avoid the trappings of the streets; drugs, alcohol, crime, but at the same time, they were forged by the streets. They were taught toughness, competitiveness, self-sufficiency, survivor skills.
With their family not having very much money, Alfred and Jackie got jobs working at the local community center, to make some extra money and to avoid the streets. They spent their free time playing basketball and racing each other in the streets. They played sports in high school and ran on the track team. They were so poor that they had to use the sand in the sandbox from the local playground as their landing pit when they practiced the long jump. But they did what they were taught; work hard, stay out of trouble, believe in God.
And 24 years after 14-year-old Mary brought a young boy into this world, her son, Alfred, was standing on a platform in the Los Angeles Coliseum, having an Olympic gold medal placed around his neck as the United States national anthem played. A day later, Jacqueline, or Jackie as she was now known, had a silver medal placed around her neck. Jackie also went onto compete in three other Olympic games, becoming one of the most decorated female Olympians in history, winning three gold medals, a silver and two bronze. And Jackie was named the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
The two children born to teenage parents whose pregnancies would be the standard argument for abortion are Al Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, two legendary track athletes, exemplary citizens, and true role models. And now, long after their track careers are over, they are still making a difference in people’s lives. They’re back in East St. Louis, where they grew up, rebuilding and revitalizing that city, making it a much better place to live for those who are born and raised there, like they had been. They recently opened the Jackie-Joyner Kersee center. How much true human potential, and human greatness has been snuffed out at the hands of abortionists?
What the abortionist do not understand is that quality of life cannot be measured on an excel spreadsheet where are you tally up your assets and debits to determine whether your life is worthwhile or not. These two people were born and raised in a family of riches, not riches by America’s standards, money and consumer products, they were born and raised in a family filled with love, and commitment, and devotion to each other, and a strong faith in God. Those are the riches that give children a chance at a better life, those are the things that make life worthwhile, the things that don’t cost anything, but are worth everything. And those are the things, more than anything is what’s lost in the abortion culture, where a child’s worth is determined based on how much money or net worth or how big of a house the child will be born into. We value children, we determine whether their life is worthwhile based on the meaningless, the worthless things in the world. And we therefore make the child just as disposable as the consumer goods that we are using to determine their worth.
Whether Al Joyner or Jackie Joyner-Kersee ever won a medal in the Olympics or whether they ever even ran one race, their lives are inherently and infinitely valuable just like yours and mine are, just like everyone who has ever lived, just like every single one of the 60 million babies whose lives were ended in abortion since 1973. Al Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s lives were valuable and worth protecting not because they were going to win Olympic medals, not because they would go on to make millions of dollars, not even because they were going to give back so much to the community, they grew up in. Their lives were valuable because they are human beings, human beings from the moment of conception. And they, like all unborn babies, were worth protecting.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.