Americans abort over half a million fetuses a year. A single organization with the ironic name of Planned Parenthood prevents parenthood in this way several hundred thousand times a year.
Compared to the rest of the world, our abortion laws are lax. Only about 30% of countries allow abortion simply because a woman wants one. The abortion laws of Finland, Germany, France and several other European countries are more stringent than American law.
Some fetuses survive abortions, and are intentionally killed on the operating table. Hard data on this is difficult to obtain, of course, but in the macabre clinic of abortionist Kermit Gosnell it apparently happened fairly often.
A disproportionate number of aborted fetuses are racial minorities. Nearly as many black fetuses are aborted as are born. Altogether, 19 million black fetuses have been aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade — about triple the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Some states are nonetheless liberalizing their abortion laws further. For example, New York recently enacted legislation permitting abortion up to the moment of birth. One gets the impression that this type of legislation is not because there’s a pressing need, but simply to taunt the other side.
Other states are going the other way. They seek to outlaw abortions except under very narrow circumstances (though the law would apply to the performer of the abortion, not to the woman receiving one).
This is all tragic, but here’s the weird thing. While we kill thousands of fetuses a day, couples and singles desperately seeking to adopt and raise a child are on waiting lists extending for years.
Why this disconnect? Why are we slaughtering lives on a genocidal scale, considering making criminals out of doctors and potentially risking the health of women, all while making adoptive parents wait for years?
It’s because today’s politics is not about solving problems. It’s about bashing the other tribe. The reason politicians on both sides do this is because it works. It gets them elected and re-elected. We should blame ourselves for that, and should do something about it.
In the meantime, let’s stop weaponizing babies, criminalizing doctors, endangering women, demonizing men and bashing the other side. This is too important. Lives are at stake.
And let’s put aside the unanswerable questions of theology and philosophy like: “When does a living fetus become a living baby?”
Let’s instead talk about solutions. Here are mine.
First, allow prospective adoptive parents to sponsor pregnant women through their pregnancy. The sponsorship would entail paying for the woman’s medical costs together with a stipend in recognition of the significant hardship of pregnancy and labor.
Drug tests could be a mandatory part of the woman’s medical checkups during the sponsored pregnancy.
Second, make contraception available over the counter without a prescription, including the pill. Republicans recently suggested this, and Planned Parenthood strongly objected.
Third, make kindergarten and day care available at no cost to parents nationwide. We do this for first-graders because it makes us a better society with better citizens. Are pre-kindergartners any less important or less vulnerable?
Finally, limit abortion in the second and third trimesters to cases where the woman’s life is legitimately threatened. When a woman aborts for convenience, it’s reasonable to ask her to make the decision within three months, especially if there’s a real alternative of putting the delivered baby up for adoption by eager parents.
Insofar as abortion is concerned, I’m with Hillary Clinton who said back in 2008 that it should be “safe, legal and rare. And by rare, I mean rare.” (In her 2016 campaign, she deleted all three references to “rare” from her formula in a concession to the abortion lobby, which apparently wants abortion not to be rare.)
I know neither side will like my solutions. One side will say that a fetus is just a blob of cells that can be disposed of whenever and however the woman to whom it is attached dictates.
That argument is just not scientific. Ultrasound images show that a fetus in the later months of pregnancy looks and even acts like a baby, not a blob of cells. Studies show that at least by the third trimester, a fetus feels pain.
Sometimes that side of the debate also contends that as a man I have no right to an opinion on this issue because no fetus has seen fit to attach itself to me.
That argument is just stupid. It’s like saying I have no right to an opinion against animal abuse because I’ve never given birth to a dog. Having an opinion about legal and moral issues of the day is not only my right, but as a citizen it’s my obligation.
The opposite side to the debate may say that ending the life of a living fetus at any stage after fertilization constitutes infanticide. OK, that’s a bright line. But it’s one that produces inhumane outcomes in cases of rape, incest, horrible deformities or disease.
In short, the absolutists and polarizing protagonists will say what their agenda dictates without regard to hard realities.
And so maybe my solutions, disliked by both sides, are good ones. Anybody who thinks abortion is a simple problem that lends itself to simple solutions hasn’t really thought through it.
I welcome other suggestions. We surely can stop performing hundreds of thousands of abortions a year. We surely can stop this slaughter.
Published June 2, 2018 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-what-about-the-adoption-option/)
Once again your brilliance and compassion overwhelms me
This is a pretty balanced argument for somebody who clearly regards a fetus as more “human” than I do, based on my belief that the thing that distinguishes us humans from other life forms (or, at least most others) is our “sentience” — that is, our ability to recognize our own existence. I don’t recall having that before being born, and I doubt that any other person does either. And I also have the “libertarian” view that whatever is going on inside anybody’s body is their own damned business. (Except as regards the obligation to be vaccinated against communicable diseases, unless a person agrees to live by themself on a remote island or in a bubble.)
The matter of adoption is one on which practically everyone can agree in theory. Your suggestion is reasonable and fair, that a woman (or girl) considering an abortion be paired with people who will put up their “money” with their religious/moral beliefs and actually agree to adopt and support the human-to-be prior to birth.
But look at your own statistics about 19 million black women’s fetuses having been aborted. Just how many of those do you suppose people would have been willing to adopt — especially people whom you and I would consider to make “good parents” — when the major social dysfunction preventing a disproportionately large portion of the black population from achieving their potential in American society, is the absence of responsible black fathers in far too many households?
With a background in engineering and economics, I recognize that for economic and environmental reasons, the quality of life in the United States and the world will decline as population growth continues without intelligent policies to limit it. As such, I strongly support contraception as a means of preventing unwanted births, and also support abortion as a last resort in preventing unwanted births. But it is false to assume that every abortion results in one less person being born, because in a substantial if indeterminate number of cases, a woman (or girl) who has an abortion because she is not prepared emotionally or financially to properly raise a child, defers child bearing to a later time when she is better prepared to do so, for the mutual benefit of the child, his or her family, and society overall. (And I am not so stupid as to not recognize that having a limited number of children is necessary and desirable for both personal happiness and human survival.)
On a lighter note — never having fallen for the allure of a Facebook “membership” or whatever that is called — I missed the opportunity to comment on your article last week that criticized the efforts of liberal Aspen elitists to activate local government diktats to determine whether the building space presently occupied by the Paradise ice cream shop and bakery under a rental agreement should be converted to a store selling clothing. On my occasional visits to Aspen from somewhat “less upscale, down valley Carbondale,” I have often bought and enjoyed an ice cream cone from the Paradise business. Even though the price might be a dollar or so more than what I might pay for a similar confection in, say, Grand Junction, I’m willing to occasionally spring for it for the privilege of sitting outside, often listening to live classical music, while watching some of the world’s most presumptuous people parade by. Given this potential clientele, I can understand why a store selling clothing marked up by hundreds (or thousands) of dollars per item would be more profitable than a shop marking up its ice cream and pastries by “only” a few dollars.
But if business decisions like that are to be determined by government — through a system commonly called “socialism” but more precisely called “central planning” — what could we expect in this situation?
Perhaps, the solution should be for some government agency to assume the “vital” role of producing and selling ice cream. Following the Soviet model — which rational people (not including the likes of Bernie Sanders) recognize as a failure — the production of ice cream would be made more “efficient” for the alleged benefit of “working people.” Under this theory, only two flavors would be produced — plain, and vanilla. (Well, perhaps more, having different colors so as not to offend “people of color.”)
And as an appropriately “progressive” spokesman — oops, “spokesperson” — for this model of collective determination of individual preference in ice cream, the Aspen liberal elite should enlist the services of their darling ice-cream loving politician — Obama bin Lickin”.
Great comments, Ted, and you even gave me a chuckle.
On a serious note, I’ll address your point that sentience of our existence is what makes us human (“I think, therefore I am” might express the idea). I have to ask, how sentient were you at age 2? At age 1? At one month? Honestly, I remember nothing of my existence until I was at least 4.
My point is not to say I dispute you. My point is to say that these are indeed very hard issues, and characterized by gray areas.
Based mainly on my observations in closely cooperating with my wife in raising our daughter, I would say that sentience requires a few months to develop in humans. That is not an argument for infanticide, because I think that the moment of birth is a point that is uniquely definable from a legal and ethical standpoint. It separates the period when the human-to-be is the exclusive province of the woman (girl) inside whose body they are attached, and the start of the period at which society (and hopefully the father) should acquire a major interest in their protection as a free-living individual (even though not yet a “sentient” one).
I respect the moral objections that some people have against abortion, and for that reason am generally willing to support the “Hyde Amendment” preventing federal funding of abortions. As an exception, however, I think that women in the armed forces and other government agencies should be entitled to government funded abortions if they are raped while on duty. (I contribute to certain “family planning” organizations that included Planned Parenthood until they went off on promoting certain “progressive” tangents such as their opposition to alleged “voter suppression”.)
My major disagreement with people who are “pro-life” is that too many of them are opposed to any programs that encourage young people to defer child-bearing, especially by the use of contraceptives; are opposed to government programs (some of which are actually effective) that assist low income people in raising children according to civilized norms; and are unwilling to adopt “unwanted” children themselves.
I commend you for endorsing alternatives to abortion, but doubt that these would be sufficient to solve the personal tragedy and social costs of children being born who are unwanted and not cared for according to the norms of civilized people of all ethnicities.
Ted, regarding your second to last paragraph:
I agree that some pro-lifers show a certain hypocrisy in being pro-life but failing to support contraception and post-birth support for babies. But that doesn’t mean that they are wrong about being pro-life; it just means that they are hypocritical.
If a murderer said people should not be allowed to murder, I wouldn’t say “he’s hypocritical and so he’s wrong.” I’d say “he’s hypocritical but right.”
Anyway, abortion is the most difficult moral, medical, legal and philosophical issue of the day (and perhaps always will be). Maybe there are no real complete solutions, but surely we can do better than we’re doing now. Best, Glenn