I had fully intended to post a long, well thought out response to a comment on my post about Child Centered Adoption when, through a mishap in my order of operations, I lost the two pages I'd written. As a result I'll rewrite what I can remember in the short, short, reductum abusrdum version:
"We do want to speak for the voice of the child and I appreciate you pointing out that we can't do that because we're still ourselves. This doesn't seem so bad, it seems as though you are referencing a bad experience where that was the case."
To begin I'll be speaking only about this behavior as it relates to adoption. I find the tendency to speak on behalf of children who are not yet born dangerous, often abusive, and inherently disrespectful.
The notion that this behavior is disrespectful seems, to me, to be a no-brainer. Speaking on behalf of another person without that person's express permission simply isn't okay. Since we're talking about unborn children we hit a tough spot. Often the argument is made that "if [we] don't speak for the child who will?" That's a fair argument but it has a very simple answer. One that most people using this approach don't want to hear. The people who get to speak for an unborn child are that child's biological parents. It's very simple. Legally speaking there is no grey area here. Ethically speaking there is marginal grey area at best. So the rights, intentions, and moral standing of the biological parents are called into question with little or no justification other than the belief the child would want it that way. This also disrespects the child by assuming authority to speak to the experience of a person in a situation we cannot understand. It's a claim to authority with no right.
That's where we encounter the abusive tendencies of this approach. Speaking on behalf of an unborn child to that child's parent is, almost universally, a tactic used to manipulate the decision making process of that parent. This tactic is inherently intrusive as it inserts the manipulator into an emotionally charged relationship with the future parent. The emotional intensity of this interaction is often forced upon pregnant women by total strangers. This is a near textbook definition of emotional abuse and closely mirrors many of the emotional realities of sexual assault. This behavior is NOT okay. The only people who have the right to speak about the realities of an unplanned pregnancy are those directly involved. Input from anyone else is a gift given to those who are invited. No one has the right to tell a mother or father what his/her child would want.
It is the presumption of rights following the presumption of truth that makes this dangerous. Because the manipulator believes s/he is correct that grants him/her the right to dispense "the truth" however s/he sees fit. I could get into the neurophysiology of how this is extremely dangerous but that will take a bit more time than I think it's worth. If you want me to expound more on how I believe neurophysiology relates to this let me know and I'll post an addition later. Because those involved with an unplanned pregnancy are, by default, emotionally strained they are easier to manipulate than a person whose resources are bountiful. Real lives are being affected by total strangers because they don't have the emotional resources to fend off emotional manipulation. But there's more. This behavior is dangerous for the people using it too. Each time a person uses this tactic successfully (that is achieves his/her desired end) the experience and world view of that person is being affirmed. Unfortunately the world view that is getting the affirmation includes the assumption that the person is right and can understand the experience of another human so fully as to direct their behavior more successfully than the human her/himself. This understanding of others, I believe, is dehumanizing. For my money anything that cheapens the dignity and worth of one human cheapens us all. No person is more valuable than any other and no one opinion is better than another. All opinions have equal dignity. Not all opinions have equal information. Rarely do many opinions express equal respect. Differing opinions and experiences never need disrespect or malign one another. Quality and quantity of information is paramount in these discussions. Speaking on behalf of another person is inherently an opinion, not a fact. It is dangerous to rely on this tactic for everyone involved because an opinion based upon emotion cannot be discredited. Because statements made this way cannot be discredited, their information cannot be rebuffed, they seek to force others to make decisions based solely on emotion. It is effectively the equivalent of going to a debate wearing ear plugs and screaming "la la la la la" until anyone who disagrees has left. It makes for a very shallow understanding of the world and the people in it. I believe that is disrespectful to all of reality.
I think humans are very cool and deserve to be known as fully as possible. I can't know you if I spend all my time telling you "you're doing it wrong."