The Forgotten Solution to the Abortion Debate

A recent article asked, "Why do more people choose abortion over adoption?"  The author, Kristi Brown, commented:

Countless women in the U.S. choose abortion over adoption for their unborn babies every year. When I sat in on counseling sessions at a pregnancy center, I learned that women are often very closed to the idea of adoption. They either want to keep their baby themselves or get rid of the baby now. Adoption statistics are hard to track, since states are not necessarily required to report domestic adoptions.  However, the numbers are grim, and much of it is owing to abortion.

If true, such a mindset is troubling.  How could we be so hostile to life, particularly given that "there are up to 36 couples waiting for every one baby placed for adoption"?

The data is admittedly sparse, but sufficient.  Obtainable statistics indicate that U.S. adoptions generally fall into three categories: a) adoptions from U.S. foster care, involving public welfare agencies (37%); b) private adoptions of U.S. children (38%); and c) private adoptions from international sources (25%).  The percentages shown parenthetically represent all 0- to 17-year-old adopted children in the U.S. as of 2007, by source of adoptioni.

Based on these percentages, annual foster care adoption data, and readily available abortion statistics, we can (i) determine if many mothers and fathers really do "feel that killing their children is a better option than choosing families for their children" and, if so, (ii) explore why they might feel that way.

To do so, all yearly adoptions were totaled, with a sub-total for U.S.-sourced adoptions:

Fiscal Year

Actual Foster Care Adoptions

Private Adoptions (38%)

International Adoptions (25%)

Domestic Subtotal

Total

2002

51,000

52,378

34,459

103,378

137,838

2003

50,000

51,351

33,784

101,351

135,135

2004

51,000

52,378

34,459

103,378

137,838

2005

52,000

53,405

35,135

105,405

140,514

2006

51,000

52,378

34,459

103,378

137,838

2007

53,000

54,432

35,811

107,432

143,343

2008

55,000

56,486

37,162

111,486

148,649

2009

57,000

58,541

38,514

115,541

154,054

2010

53,000

54,432

35,811

107,432

143,343

U.S. abortions then were compared to U.S.-sourced adoptions to derive an abortion/adoption ratio, as follows (final 2009 and 2010 abortion statistics are not yet available):

Fiscal Year

U.S. Abortions

Domestic Adoption Subtotal

Abortion/Adoption Ratio

2002

1,269,000

103,378

12.3

2003

1,250,000

101,351

12.3

2004

1,222,100

103,378

11.8

2005

1,206,200

105,405

11.4

2006

1,242,200

103,378

12.0

2007

1,209,600

107,432

11.3

2008

1,212,400

111,486

10.9



Average:

11.7

The table above shows that abortions dwarf adoptions by 11.7 to 1.  Even this may understate the abortion/adoption disparity, because not all domestic adoptions are of infants, and any adjustment to reduce the adoption denominator to infant-only adoptions will further increase the abortion/adoption ratio.  For instance, backing out foster care adoptions (generally older children) increases the abortion/adoption ratio to 23x.

The recent article and its author are correct.  We kill our unwanted kids 12 to 23 timesii more frequently than we save them.  Why?  Why might mothers and fathers believe that permanently rendering unwanted children lifeless is preferable to granting them hope inside a new handpicked family?  With its puppies-for-panhandlers program, San Francisco is giving unwanted puppies more hope than we give our unwanted children.  Why not spend the extra several months pregnant and save a life?

Some readers will reflexively answer "health care."  Though ObamaCare has hyperinflated "health care" by creating non-disease diseases -- like sexual activity, pregnancy, and old age -- let's consider it.  Is there a serious health reason for aborting children 12-23x more frequently than bearing and placing them in welcoming families?

We know women don't expect to get sick and die from pregnancy, and the data support that fact.  More importantly, we know that abortion is more dangerous to a mother than is pregnancy.  Studies show that countries banning abortions experience substantially lower maternal mortality.  Examples include Ireland, Poland, Malta, and now Chile.  On the other hand, countries with legalized abortion experience increased maternal mortality.  South Africa experienced a "fourfold increase in maternal mortality since a UK-funded abortion organization set up clinics around that country."

So if not for real health reasons, why?  The answer may be as simple as frightful ignorance -- that many people are scared and just don't realize that a baby's heart beats in 22 days, hiccups begin 52 days, organs function 8 weeks after conception -- in short, that abortion kills a human.  Or perhaps paganism -- worshipping Choice, we kill children; worshipping MolochCanaanites and Carthaginians killed children.

Another answer may be found in the wealth of opinion and literature, and even in an anti-adoption movement, that are aimed at justifying the decision in therapeutic terms.  For example, consider:

Although a birth mother may not be hit with financial costs surrounding her unplanned pregnancy if she chooses adoption, there is a generally a profound emotional toll. ... [M]ost birth mothers [sic] profoundly affected by the loss of their children[.] ... Most birth mothers mourn the loss of their children throughout their lives and none forget their children and move on effortlessly as they may have been assured that they would.

This explanation is made reasonable only by avoiding consideration of the lethal act and actual "profound loss" it seeks to justify.  Years before Roe v. Wade, C.S. Lewis identified the same sentiment in The Four Loves.  Consider Lewis' straight talk, expressed by the character Orual about her sisteriii:

We'd rather they were ours and dead than yours[.] ... I was my own and Psyche was mine and no one else had any right to her.

Lewis may have been on to something.  He presciently identified the therapeutic abortion-over-adoption mindset as a disordering of love between family members.  It is a love distorted by pride and the false assumption of ownership that "can be deadly to both the giver and the recipient"iv

In the case of abortion over adoption, it is a distortion that ignores the child as gift, a separate and dignified human being, a source of happiness and a calling.  Lewis cautions that it is a disordered love that reduces us all: "You darken our counsels and your own soul -- with these passions"v.

Unlike the to-be-aborted child, Psyche has a voice, and with it, she addresses her would-be terminatorvi:

It is like looking into a deep pit.  I am not sure whether I like your kind of love better than hatred.  Oh, Orual...I begin to think I never knew you.  Whatever comes after, something that was between us dies here.

Lewis' fictional characters resolve the disordered love in their midst.  Orual sees the error of her ways and elevates to a better and self-giving lovevii:

Never again will I call you mine; but all there is of me shall be yours. ... I never wished you well, never had one selfless thought of you.  I was a craver.

A 12-23x abortion/adoption ratio indicates we too are cravers and disordered lovers, the likely result of our addiction to a selfish and radical autonomy.  We should probably expect that abortions will exceed adoptions until our possessiveness, pride, and self-orientation are transcended by "gift-love, which seeks the good of the beloved and helps the other kinds of love avoid the pitfalls that can turn any of them into a kind of hatred"viii.

Perhaps with some education about the life-affirming benefits (to mother, father and baby) of seeing a pregnancy through, parents of unwanted children might log the extra few months and provide their kids with hope in a loving and vetted family.  If an effective ad campaign can dramatically reduce the incidence of smoking, drunk driving, the failure to use seat belts, or obesity, then surely there is an answer that softens the hearts and minds of pregnant women when it comes to adoption.

The good news is that the cure for our abortion epidemic already exists, and it is adoption.  If, in fact, there are 36 couples lined up for every adoption, there are 4-5 million couples waiting for babies, a number that is 3-4x greater than the 1.2 million babies we annually abort.  Imagine the benefits of annually adding another 1.2 million happy and productive citizens.  These rescued individuals and their children just might solve the demographic challenges of our broken entitlement programs.


iAdoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents.

iiOn a related note, Planned Parenthood is a disproportionate contributor to the abortion/adoption ratio.  We know that Planned Parenthood aborts 391x for every adoption referral.  We also know that Planned Parenthood accounts for 25%-30% of all U.S. abortions.  Without Planned Parenthood, the nationwide abortion/adoption ratio would fall at least 30% to at most 8.1x, from 11.7x. 

iiiC.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, pp 290-291.

ivNancy Enright, CS Lewis' Till We Have Faces and the Transformation of Love, Logos, Fall 2011, Volume 14:4, p 109.

vIbid, p 108.

viIbid, p 92.

viiIbid, p 113.

viiiIbid, p 107.

A recent article asked, "Why do more people choose abortion over adoption?"  The author, Kristi Brown, commented:

Countless women in the U.S. choose abortion over adoption for their unborn babies every year. When I sat in on counseling sessions at a pregnancy center, I learned that women are often very closed to the idea of adoption. They either want to keep their baby themselves or get rid of the baby now. Adoption statistics are hard to track, since states are not necessarily required to report domestic adoptions.  However, the numbers are grim, and much of it is owing to abortion.

If true, such a mindset is troubling.  How could we be so hostile to life, particularly given that "there are up to 36 couples waiting for every one baby placed for adoption"?

The data is admittedly sparse, but sufficient.  Obtainable statistics indicate that U.S. adoptions generally fall into three categories: a) adoptions from U.S. foster care, involving public welfare agencies (37%); b) private adoptions of U.S. children (38%); and c) private adoptions from international sources (25%).  The percentages shown parenthetically represent all 0- to 17-year-old adopted children in the U.S. as of 2007, by source of adoptioni.

Based on these percentages, annual foster care adoption data, and readily available abortion statistics, we can (i) determine if many mothers and fathers really do "feel that killing their children is a better option than choosing families for their children" and, if so, (ii) explore why they might feel that way.

To do so, all yearly adoptions were totaled, with a sub-total for U.S.-sourced adoptions:

Fiscal Year

Actual Foster Care Adoptions

Private Adoptions (38%)

International Adoptions (25%)

Domestic Subtotal

Total

2002

51,000

52,378

34,459

103,378

137,838

2003

50,000

51,351

33,784

101,351

135,135

2004

51,000

52,378

34,459

103,378

137,838

2005

52,000

53,405

35,135

105,405

140,514

2006

51,000

52,378

34,459

103,378

137,838

2007

53,000

54,432

35,811

107,432

143,343

2008

55,000

56,486

37,162

111,486

148,649

2009

57,000

58,541

38,514

115,541

154,054

2010

53,000

54,432

35,811

107,432

143,343

U.S. abortions then were compared to U.S.-sourced adoptions to derive an abortion/adoption ratio, as follows (final 2009 and 2010 abortion statistics are not yet available):

Fiscal Year

U.S. Abortions

Domestic Adoption Subtotal

Abortion/Adoption Ratio

2002

1,269,000

103,378

12.3

2003

1,250,000

101,351

12.3

2004

1,222,100

103,378

11.8

2005

1,206,200

105,405

11.4

2006

1,242,200

103,378

12.0

2007

1,209,600

107,432

11.3

2008

1,212,400

111,486

10.9



Average:

11.7

The table above shows that abortions dwarf adoptions by 11.7 to 1.  Even this may understate the abortion/adoption disparity, because not all domestic adoptions are of infants, and any adjustment to reduce the adoption denominator to infant-only adoptions will further increase the abortion/adoption ratio.  For instance, backing out foster care adoptions (generally older children) increases the abortion/adoption ratio to 23x.

The recent article and its author are correct.  We kill our unwanted kids 12 to 23 timesii more frequently than we save them.  Why?  Why might mothers and fathers believe that permanently rendering unwanted children lifeless is preferable to granting them hope inside a new handpicked family?  With its puppies-for-panhandlers program, San Francisco is giving unwanted puppies more hope than we give our unwanted children.  Why not spend the extra several months pregnant and save a life?

Some readers will reflexively answer "health care."  Though ObamaCare has hyperinflated "health care" by creating non-disease diseases -- like sexual activity, pregnancy, and old age -- let's consider it.  Is there a serious health reason for aborting children 12-23x more frequently than bearing and placing them in welcoming families?

We know women don't expect to get sick and die from pregnancy, and the data support that fact.  More importantly, we know that abortion is more dangerous to a mother than is pregnancy.  Studies show that countries banning abortions experience substantially lower maternal mortality.  Examples include Ireland, Poland, Malta, and now Chile.  On the other hand, countries with legalized abortion experience increased maternal mortality.  South Africa experienced a "fourfold increase in maternal mortality since a UK-funded abortion organization set up clinics around that country."

So if not for real health reasons, why?  The answer may be as simple as frightful ignorance -- that many people are scared and just don't realize that a baby's heart beats in 22 days, hiccups begin 52 days, organs function 8 weeks after conception -- in short, that abortion kills a human.  Or perhaps paganism -- worshipping Choice, we kill children; worshipping MolochCanaanites and Carthaginians killed children.

Another answer may be found in the wealth of opinion and literature, and even in an anti-adoption movement, that are aimed at justifying the decision in therapeutic terms.  For example, consider:

Although a birth mother may not be hit with financial costs surrounding her unplanned pregnancy if she chooses adoption, there is a generally a profound emotional toll. ... [M]ost birth mothers [sic] profoundly affected by the loss of their children[.] ... Most birth mothers mourn the loss of their children throughout their lives and none forget their children and move on effortlessly as they may have been assured that they would.

This explanation is made reasonable only by avoiding consideration of the lethal act and actual "profound loss" it seeks to justify.  Years before Roe v. Wade, C.S. Lewis identified the same sentiment in The Four Loves.  Consider Lewis' straight talk, expressed by the character Orual about her sisteriii:

We'd rather they were ours and dead than yours[.] ... I was my own and Psyche was mine and no one else had any right to her.

Lewis may have been on to something.  He presciently identified the therapeutic abortion-over-adoption mindset as a disordering of love between family members.  It is a love distorted by pride and the false assumption of ownership that "can be deadly to both the giver and the recipient"iv

In the case of abortion over adoption, it is a distortion that ignores the child as gift, a separate and dignified human being, a source of happiness and a calling.  Lewis cautions that it is a disordered love that reduces us all: "You darken our counsels and your own soul -- with these passions"v.

Unlike the to-be-aborted child, Psyche has a voice, and with it, she addresses her would-be terminatorvi:

It is like looking into a deep pit.  I am not sure whether I like your kind of love better than hatred.  Oh, Orual...I begin to think I never knew you.  Whatever comes after, something that was between us dies here.

Lewis' fictional characters resolve the disordered love in their midst.  Orual sees the error of her ways and elevates to a better and self-giving lovevii:

Never again will I call you mine; but all there is of me shall be yours. ... I never wished you well, never had one selfless thought of you.  I was a craver.

A 12-23x abortion/adoption ratio indicates we too are cravers and disordered lovers, the likely result of our addiction to a selfish and radical autonomy.  We should probably expect that abortions will exceed adoptions until our possessiveness, pride, and self-orientation are transcended by "gift-love, which seeks the good of the beloved and helps the other kinds of love avoid the pitfalls that can turn any of them into a kind of hatred"viii.

Perhaps with some education about the life-affirming benefits (to mother, father and baby) of seeing a pregnancy through, parents of unwanted children might log the extra few months and provide their kids with hope in a loving and vetted family.  If an effective ad campaign can dramatically reduce the incidence of smoking, drunk driving, the failure to use seat belts, or obesity, then surely there is an answer that softens the hearts and minds of pregnant women when it comes to adoption.

The good news is that the cure for our abortion epidemic already exists, and it is adoption.  If, in fact, there are 36 couples lined up for every adoption, there are 4-5 million couples waiting for babies, a number that is 3-4x greater than the 1.2 million babies we annually abort.  Imagine the benefits of annually adding another 1.2 million happy and productive citizens.  These rescued individuals and their children just might solve the demographic challenges of our broken entitlement programs.


iAdoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents.

iiOn a related note, Planned Parenthood is a disproportionate contributor to the abortion/adoption ratio.  We know that Planned Parenthood aborts 391x for every adoption referral.  We also know that Planned Parenthood accounts for 25%-30% of all U.S. abortions.  Without Planned Parenthood, the nationwide abortion/adoption ratio would fall at least 30% to at most 8.1x, from 11.7x. 

iiiC.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, pp 290-291.

ivNancy Enright, CS Lewis' Till We Have Faces and the Transformation of Love, Logos, Fall 2011, Volume 14:4, p 109.

vIbid, p 108.

viIbid, p 92.

viiIbid, p 113.

viiiIbid, p 107.