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has been in the news a lot lately, mostly because the makers of those
controversial Planned Parenthood videos from a few months ago have been found
to be frauds, with
indictments brought against them both. As a
long-time Planned Parenthood supporter, I find what they did to be
Abortion only represents 3 percent of the services Planned
Parenthood provides (all within their legal rights to do so) and I truly feel
that if you have to lie and commit crimes to push your own agenda
forward—you're doing it wrong. And you may just be on the wrong side of that
But my feelings about abortion are also slightly more complicated than that; they're intricately woven within my own personal experiences and beliefs, as I have to
believe is the case for most women.
starters, I am infertile. I will never carry a child beneath my heart, and the
simple fact that there are so many women who get pregnant when they don't want
to, while I so desperately wanted to and couldn't, crushes me. Something about
that scenario just points to how devastatingly unfair the world can be.
that, I personally believe that life starts at conception. So much so, that
when my own IVF cycles failed, I mourned the loss of those embryos as though I
had lost my babies. It hurt. They were mine, and they were gone, and it broke
there is the fact that I am an adoptive mother. I can't think about abortion
and not think about my daughter's
face—about the little girl who very easily could have never been if her other
mother had made a different choice.
am thankful every day that she chose adoption instead of abortion.
But I don't believe for one second that same choice should be a choice forced on
And that's where my feelings get complicated.
Abortion breaks my heart, but I understand the cold necessity of its availability.
have worked within populations defined by an extent of poverty most of us will
never actually see. I have spent time volunteering in abuse shelters and
speaking to women who have lived lives I sometimes have a hard time even
wrapping my head around. I understand that not everyone shares my same beliefs
about life and conception, and that perhaps even more importantly, not everyone
has the same opportunities laid out before them that have always been available
while I have always known that abortion would never be a choice I could
personally make, not under any circumstances, I still support a woman's right
to choose. And I refuse to judge any woman for making that choice.
breaks my heart, but I understand the cold necessity of its availability.
when I read a comment on a piece about abortion recently that seemed to paint
adoption as the solution to abortion, I had a very difficult time not
responding. The comment itself read:
"I do believe if funds were
diverted to making adoption more financially attainable (who has $20-30k?!) these babies could have great homes and lives. The difficult-to-conceive woman
in me breaks when I hear of other women making this hard choice."
read that comment several times, imagining in my head the responses I could
compose to gently educate the poster on how misguided her words were. But
ultimately, I chose not to say a thing. I didn't know this woman, and she
didn't seem to be coming from a bad place—just a place of self-interest, something I know all too well can happen when in the depths of infertility.
it wasn't the first time I have seen adoption thrown around as a solution to
abortion, so I thought it might be time to share my thoughts on the subject
here—as a mother through adoption and a woman who is still decidedly
Rallying for a reduction of adoption costs really only serves the needs of adoptive parents.
of the biggest issues with that initial comment was mostly just the tone-deaf
nature of it. The woman commenting seemed to think that reducing the costs of
adoption would make it a more viable option for birth families. But the reality
is, birth families don't care how much adoption costs. They aren't affected in
any way by those fees.
for a reduction of adoption costs really only serves the needs of adoptive
there is the fact that there is no shortage of adoptive parents out there
looking for babies. When a healthy newborn is placed for adoption, there is
never an issue with finding a home for that child. In fact, those within the
adoption industry have been known to discuss an "infant shortage"—the term used
to define the growing number of adoptive parents just waiting for babies to
the costs of adoption would in no way improve those dynamics.
This doesn't even touch on the fact that adoption doesn't have to be that expensive. For those willing to adopt through foster
care, adoption can often be free. People typically pay the higher fees because
they want healthy, white infants, which is fine (I am not here to judge anyone
else's adoption choices). But … those types of adoption certainly aren't in any
way connected to abortion. The birth mothers pursuing adoption through the
agencies that charge those types of fees are often long past the point of
considering abortion anyway.
not an either-or decision to them.
brings me to the overall naivety of assuming that the option of adoption should
be an automatic trump to anyone considering abortion. There was recently an
article in the National
Review that was unmistakably a pro-life piece, but
it took a compelling look at the women who choose abortion. Most notably, it
sympathized with those women who feel as though they have no other choice to
thing about abortion is, it provides an immediate solution. Adoption, on the
other hand, requires a woman to remain pregnant for nine months. It forces her to
out her circumstances to her friends, family, peers and co-workers. It
necessitates her putting her life on hold (in some cases, even in danger) in
order to endure those miseries of pregnancy that most women only go through
because they know they will get a baby out of it in the end.
The wounds of adoption can endure for a lifetime.
was in the delivery room when my daughter was born. I saw the agony her other
mother went through, and we cried together over the complicated mixture of joy
and grief that followed us both. There is a 2010 NY Times Piece, "Open
Adoption: Not So Simple Math," that
poignantly describes the heartache that can haunt a biological mother after the
birth of a child she plans on placing for adoption. And none of that ends in
that room. The wounds of adoption can endure for a lifetime.
would guess that many birth mothers go on to regret their choice to place their
child for adoption at least a handful of times after that decision has been
made, just as many women who pursue an abortion may one day find themselves
mourning that choice. The difference is, for women who choose abortion, there
is no physical reminder forever facing them down when it comes to that
decision. But for women who choose adoption, that reminder is always there—a
growing, living, breathing little person who is being raised by someone else.
women who choose adoption, they must forever confront and re-evaluate that
choice. For the rest of their lives.
might argue that that is what a woman should do if she finds herself pregnant, that only a selfish woman would
choose otherwise. But I would tell you that until you have walked in another
woman's shoes, you have no room to judge. Because the truth is, not every woman
is built for the complexities of adoption. And even those who are will have
their strength and fortitude tested and retested every step of the way.
the end, it's my guess that abortion and adoption are never even really in
competition in the minds of most women finding themselves facing an unwanted
pregnancy. They are such drastically different routes, that I don't imagine
most women who would choose the one path would ever seriously consider the other.
Making adoption somehow more attractive won't end or even reduce abortions. Because
women who choose abortion probably weren't ever going to be in the mindset to
I find it utterly ironic that those who are most vocally against abortion are often the same people fighting the very initiatives that would have the potential of reducing those abortions.
how can you reduce abortions?
for starters—helping to prevent the pregnancy from happening in the first place
seems like a pretty logical solution. Which is why it baffles me to see
anti-choice protesters rallying so hard against Planned Parenthood. If you
genuinely care about reducing abortions, we need places like Planned Parenthood to continue providing safe, reliable,
effective and often free birth control options to the millions of women who are
treated there. Planned Parenthood has likely prevented far more abortions than
they've actually performed—and shutting them down only leads to more unwanted
beyond that, once those pregnancies have already happened, the key to reducing
abortions lies in making parenthood a more feasible option—an actual choice
women feel like they can make. That means advocating for affordable childcare,
universal healthcare, college education options for parents and paid maternity
leave for all. If we were actually making a better effort to support families,
abortion might not seem like the only choice for the many women who simply
can't see any other way.
So I find it utterly ironic that those who are most vocally against abortion are often the same people fighting the very initiatives that would have the potential of reducing those abortions.
You don't end abortion by encouraging adoption. You reduce the necessity of abortion by supporting families—no matter how those families may come to be.