Adoption Is Not An Alternative To Abortion
All about adoption as an abortion alternative (alliteration!)
I can’t tell you how many times anti-choicers scream ADOPTION! As if none of the women who get abortions ever thought of it.
I wonder if the antis ever stop for a minute to really think about adoption. No, I don’t mean considering adopting a child, although that would be the non-hypocritical thing to do. I’m wondering if they really considered how adoption works and how it doesn’t actually solve all the problems that come with an unwanted pregnancy.
Let me preface this all by saying that this is NOT an argument against adoption. I have no problem with people putting children up for adoption if that’s what they feel is the best choice. What I do have a problem with is the idea that adoption is, in all cases a better, alternative to abortion.
In reality, adoption isn’t even an alternative to abortion at all. What it is is an alternative to parenting. It solves the problem of a childrearing, but not the problem of unwanted pregnancy. Women still face nine months of gestation and the pain and sickness that comes with it, will still require very expensive medical care, will miss work or school, will still endure the pain of labor, and will still face all of the risk that come with pregnancy and delivery. To some women, like myself, this is simply unacceptable.
Too often, people accuse women who get abortions of doing so ‘for convenience.’ Because nothing is more convenient than taking time out of your schedule to forge though a mob of screaming antis on your way inside your local clinic to get an uncomfortable and, for some, embarrassing procedure and then withstand cramps and bleeding for a few days, all the while being judged by those around you. And all if this comes after making what could be a very difficult decision, figuring out how to afford it, taking time off work, and finding care for any kids that might already exist. Yeah, right. Real convenient.
The insistence of adoption as the single best solution is made even worse when coming from women who have already had children. They of all people know that pregnancy isn’t a simple inconvenience. Realizing you left the remote on top of the TV on the other side of the room is an inconvenience. Pregnancy is an ordeal and birthing is an enormously painful experience.
The most common effects of pregnancy are mood swings and depression (which, interestingly, are things antis like to threaten women with as affects of abortion, although they’re not,) weight gain, nausea, fatigue, and general inability to function as normal. Forgive me if it doesn’t sound all that fun. However, pregnancy puts women at risk for more serious and sometimes permanent health problems and even the risk of death. I thought about listing as many complications as I could, but after half an hour I still had quite a ways to go to even come close to covering most common. I figured this post was already long enough. Suffice to say, pregnancy is not a passive, un-invasive experience and certainly far more than a mere ‘inconvenience.’
Unless someone can adopt a fetus at any stage in gestation, and take it into their own uterus to later give birth to, or to an artificial uterus then adoption does not solve the problem of pregnancy as abortion does.
Let’s talk about money. When women cite financial concerns as one of their reasons for abortion, antis will none the less insist that those women should have a baby anyway and put it up for adoption as if they think that doing so is free. It’s not. The cost of a vaginal birth without complication ranges between 9 and 17 THOUSAND dollars. If there are complications, or if a C-section is required, the cost is 14 to 25 thousand. Then of course the newborn has its own bill, usually between 1.5 and 4 thousand, and that’s for a healthy baby born at term to say nothing of babies born premature or are otherwise need of additional medical care. Most insurance plans will cover most of this cost but women will still pay from 5 hundred to 3 thousand dollars our of pocket. And this is all just for giving birth at a hospital to say nothing for prenatal care, or any additional care a woman may need as a result of her pregnancy. Not all women even with insurance will be able to afford the cost of pregnancy and birthing.
Women who aren’t covered by health insurance are shit out of luck. By the way 27 million women in the US are without health insurance. That’s 18%, almost 2 out of 10 women without health insurance – and that’s the average for all women! Of course women who don’t have the luxury of being white are far more likely to be uninsured. Whereas only 13% of white women are uninsured, that percentage nearly doubles for blacks, and triples for Native American and Hispanic women. When you factor in that that the rate of united pregnancy for these groups is much significantly higher than for whites and you see that you have a serious problem. How do you expect, uninsured women to pay for their continued pregnancies?
This problem is further exacerbated when you consider that over 28% of single women live below the poverty line which is set at 11 thousand dollars annually if they have no children. That annual income must be higher if they do have children to sit above the adjusted poverty threshold. How do you seriously expect women to pay for the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, with this income with or without insurance especially when you consider what else women must spend money on. Food, clothing, education, basic necessities, utilities, housing, and any children they might already have, puts a lot of women, living paycheck to paycheck as it is.
To make matters worse, pregnancy itself will cause women to miss work and thereby lose income and not all women are covered with paid maternity leave. On top of that, missing work and school has long term financial consequences as well as a result of missed opportunities.
It’s true that some hospitals may offer discounts to uninsured women, and that some women may be able to get financial assistance from the government or other agencies, and some especially lucky women might even get some or all of their costs covered by the prospective adoptive parents, but it’s not enough to cover all the cost for all women.
With all this in mind, it’s just breathtakingly stupid that anti-choicers were among the most opposed to health care reform which could have helped more women afford their hospital bills and maybe more likely to be able to choose to continue their pregnancies.
By contrast, an abortion in the first trimester either by pill or in clinic costs about 300 and 900 dollars without insurance and even less with insurance or if the woman qualifies for financial assistance and even less still if obtained from a non-profit such as Planned Parenthood.
Oh, but being able to afford to feed yourself and your kids and live indoors and receive medical care are just conveniences, right?
‘But there are thousands of childless couples who desperately want yours!‘ the antis mindlessly shout as if the rest of us are supposed to feel obligated to breed for them. Meanwhile, in reality, there are currently thousands of children in America alone already under state care and in need of adoption, yet are not being adopted. Well that’s an awkward fact isn’t it? Where are all those desperate childless families?
Oh, and by the way, it might be interesting to note that non-whites, the groups most likely to live below the poverty line, most likely to be without health insurance, and most at risk for unintended pregnancy are also the least likely to be adopted.
So really, adoption doesn’t solve the problems of pregnancy, physical or financial, and doesn’t really even completely solve the problem parentless children. What does it solve? It solves the problem of responsibility for women who are either unable or unwilling to care for children that they already have. And even then it isn’t a perfect solution. As with any other decision a woman might make regarding her pregnancy, the decision to put a child up for adoption can be a difficult and painful one that some women are simply unable to endure.
When antis shout from the rooftops the stories of a minority of women who regret their abortion, they ignore (or demonize) those who don’t. Similarly, when they exalt women who chose to be parents, then turn around and look down on women who wanted abortions but were unable to get them or realized too late that it could have been a better option for them. So it’s really no surprise that here too they ignore the feeling of women that are not politically expedient for the antis to use to override other women’s feelings. That is to say, they ignore the fact that adoption is as difficult a decision as any other and some women will regret that as well. Who are you to tell women what they should feel?
So before you go about self-righteously declaring adoption to be the end-all, beat-all solution for all women facing unwanted pregnancies, and at all times preferable to abortion, you’d better think again because the reality of it isn’t as rose-tinted as you might think. You don’t know every woman who walks into a clinic, you don’t know her life, her unique situation. So stop pretending you do. Only she can know what is best for her. Keep your judgments to yourself.