A common canard used against abortion abolitionists is the fallacious accusation that abolitionists are hypocritical because they are unwilling to adopt the unwanted babies that would otherwise be aborted. There are several reasons why this hackneyed fallacy is wrong. In this article, we will address the battle of adoption vs. abortion.
The State of Things
Recent estimates show that there are roughly 800,000 or 900,000 abortions per year in the United States; however, adoptions are far lower at about 15,000 per year. There is clearly a strong disincentive in the minds of mothers to carry a child to term and then give the baby to other guardians.
Common reasons provided by women as to why they choose abortion over adoption include the belief that abortion is a less expensive option, the fear of others discovering the unplanned pregnancy, and the belief that abortion is a faster and emotionally easier way to end an unplanned pregnancy.
Over the last several years, both abortion and adoption rates have been falling together. This suggests that women are not choosing between adoption and abortion, but rather between abortion and parenting. A possible explanation is the growing acceptance of unwed mothers in modern American society in contemporary times relative to past eras.
Combined with the relative ease of accessing abortions during the early stages of pregnancy, the reduced social stigma for single mothers is making adoption a less attractive option for many. On one hand, mothers can comfortably kill the baby in the womb; on the other hand, mothers can pay a low social cost for keeping their babies and raising them alone.
Adoption may therefore be considered suboptimal, and the above reasons are likely to be cited by many mothers weighing their options. The most powerful reason appears to be the emotional turmoil of carrying the baby and delivering the baby, only to give the baby to other parents.
Why Choose Abortion Over Adoption?
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is a military psychiatrist who now specializes in helping people overcome the mental and spiritual challenges from victimhood in violent incidents, such as bank robberies and school shootings.
In his book On Killing, Col. Grossman lays out the fact that soldiers who are physically distanced from their enemies or separated by screens—or even the hulls of ships and aircraft—are much less likely to suffer guilt about taking life later on.
Those who see their enemies up close—such as those who may have to dispatch an enemy hand-to-hand or see their face through a rifle scope—suffer more because they cannot ignore the humanity of their enemy.
What does this have to do with adoption? Compared to asking a mother to kill a baby she has not seen, asking a mother to give a baby away to others that she has carried to term, delivered, and seen up close is very difficult.
A prominent pro-life tactic over the years has been to pass laws requiring potential abortion clients to observe an ultrasound image and have a mandatory waiting period before they make their decision.
While such laws fall far short of establishing equal justice for the preborn, the principle is sound. It is harder to kill a baby that you have seen; observing one’s victim makes it very hard to pretend that he or she is not human.
Once a mother sees her baby, she is unlikely to be able to readily give that baby up without going through a period of very difficult grief and regret. In many states, adoption laws are written so that birth mothers are required to maintain guardianship of the child for a short time; after adoption placement occurs, they have ten days to revoke their decision. This is no doubt an excruciating time for the adoptive parents for fear that the child will be taken back to the birth mother.
Mothers’ instincts and genuine affection for their babies are difficult to overcome; many women abhor the thought of giving up a baby to someone else. The idea of aborting the child is more palatable because they have been told all their lives by the abortion activists that their baby is not a child at all—at least until the standard of “viability” has been met.
Abortion is chosen by many mothers over adoption for several reasons.
As stated above, abortions often happen at the early stages of pregnancy because they enable the mother to keep her unwanted pregnancy a secret from her social circles. Women also fear the emotional turmoil of giving the child away, with images of shadowy forces absconding with the baby against the mother’s will flashing through their minds. Some mothers may fear placing their child in a bad family or not having any input on who adopts their child.
Abortion is legal and often has no meaningful regulatory obstructions for the first trimester. There are groups of people who are ready to applaud abortion for any reason. Abortion is advertised as a medically safe alternative and a less emotionally entangling experience than adoption.
It is not terribly expensive. Abortion is viewed as a “quick fix”—especially in cases of the “Plan B” pill or other abortifacient drugs, which allow a mother to comfort herself with the possibility that there was never any baby at all, and that the pill was merely a precautionary measure.
The truth is that abortion is not safe. It is not devoid of emotional turmoil. It is not a confidential alternative.
Modern adoption laws place mothers in control of the process. Many adoptions are confidential in nature; agencies exist to help mothers conceal their pregnancy, including sheltering them and covering living expenses, medical needs, or other costs.
Mothers are typically permitted to vet presumptive families using the resources of the adoption agency that is assisting them. Adoption agencies bring a great deal of experience to a pregnant mother; they can offer the means to accomplish an adoption with the birth mother’s priorities emphasized by enacting an adoption plan.
Adoptions can be open adoption or closed adoption; the former option keeps the “door open” for birth mothers to be involved in the child’s life after the child is placed with an adoptive family.
It is a common lie of the abortion industry that the abortion procedure is safe—sometimes even safer than birth. While birth is a traumatic event for mothers, it is also a natural function of the female body; birth, while painful and difficult, is what women’s bodies are supposed to do.
Abortions, however, are what happens when something goes wrong. Abortion and miscarriage used to be more interchangeable terms—but due to the prevalence of elective abortion procedures, abortion now refers to a woman intentionally murdering her preborn child. Miscarriage, on the other hand, is a medical accident.
There are two primary kinds of abortion: chemical and surgical. Chemical abortions are the most common and generally involve taking drugs that manipulate the natural hormones in the woman’s reproductive system, rendering it a hostile environment to a preborn baby and depriving him or her of nutrients and other required materials.
The body then vacates the baby’s body because it believes that a miscarriage has happened. Common side effects of chemical abortions are fever, abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, diarrhea, cramping, dizziness, headaches, hot flashes, chills, and “light lactation.”
Less common and more serious side effects include infections, allergic reactions, and failure of the chemical to successfully kill the child. This would then require a surgical abortion to “correct” the attempted chemical abortion.
Other effects indicate serious medical problems; for example, roughly 10 percent of women who choose chemical abortion suffer serious side effects, and roughly 20 percent of that group suffers life-threatening complications.
Surgical abortion is more invasive and involves the usual risks of any invasive surgical operation—such as infection or medical error. In addition, specific risks include puncture of the uterus; damage to bowels or bladder; accidental sterilization; hysterectomy to correct a serious problem from the procedure; incomplete removal of the baby’s body, requiring a follow-up procedure; damage to the cervix from surgical tools; and heavy bleeding requiring medical intervention.
It would be very difficult to give up a child after having delivered the child, even in the event of an unexpected or unplanned pregnancy. It is a common lie of the abortion industry that there are no lasting emotional effects that come from engaging their services for the “quick fix.”
Commonly reported psychological effects include depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, nightmares, eating disorders, and relationship problems. These consequences are often unpredictable. Sometimes, they follow immediately after an abortion; sometimes, they appear and persist years later.
Certain life events can cause the problems to repeatedly emerge. Women who have abortions are often afraid that they will be unable to later have children—a fear which, unfortunately, is not unfounded.
Women who give up their babies for adoption also may have difficult feelings of grief and loss for that choice. Generally, women who choose this route are less plagued by regret and misery than abortive mothers because they are comforted by the knowledge that the child is happy and safe.
The existence of open adoptions also allows for mothers to remain involved in their child’s life. Other commonly reported feelings from birth mothers who give a child up for adoption are gratitude and relief.
Why Adoption Is Better Than Abortion
There are a number of reasons why adoption—instead of abortion—should be the choice of any mother faced with an unplanned pregnancy who does not believe that she should be parenting her baby.
The most obvious reason is the simple fact that abortion is murder. Acknowledging the humanity of your baby is important. Humans have rights and are made in the image of God. Every child is precious to God and loved by Him.
Financial worries often cause pregnant mothers to seek out abortions. However, adoption is generally completely free for the pregnant mother; in fact, financial incentives exist for pregnant mothers who choose adoption. Scholarships are available.
Living and medical expenses are covered. Adoption agencies charge the cost of their services to adoptees, not to birth mothers—and adoption agencies have the ability to do their work confidentially.
Mothers have control of the adoption process. Adoptions are not final until certain waiting periods are complete and legal activity has been finalized. Until that point, mothers retain full guardianship of their babies.
This is a trying time, but it is also a time when a mother has the right to consider her options and change her mind. Women who choose adoption usually get input into who adopts the child. They can also interview families or compare their life situations to give their child’s guardianship to the most fitting families.
Open adoptions exist, permitting many birth mothers to remain involved in their child’s life. Even in cases of closed adoptions, it is often possible for birth mothers to maintain a relationship with the adoptive family and watch the child grow.
Adoption is a process that can begin at any point during pregnancy. The adoption process can be completed with or without the baby’s father. State laws regarding family usually grant full custody of the guardianship of the child to the mother in the event that the biological parents are unwed.
This reality authorizes mothers to choose adoption even if the baby’s father does not share the same intention. In the case of legal minors, parental consent is also usually not needed to give the baby up for adoption—although family members offering support for unintended pregnancy are usually a factor that influences a mother to keep her child and be a parent.
Adoption allows mothers to completely avoid the medical risks that come with abortion. Birth is not without risk either, but it is a natural process. With quality medical care, provided for them at no cost, birth is far less risky than abortion.
Women who chose abortion in the past may wish to go a different route with subsequent pregnancies after experiencing the difficulty that comes with abortion. Psychological problems are far less common as a result of adoption, leading to fewer mental health crises.
Defeating the Pro-Choice Canard
The most common argument from abortion activists is that abortion must be made available at least to victims of rape or incest. However, adoption is a far better response to conception as a result of sexual assault.
It allows mothers to place the baby out of reach of the perpetrator, removing a painful reminder of their assault in a way that also allows the child to live.
The next common fallacy used is the argument that anti-abortion Christians are hypocritical because they are unwilling to adopt unwanted babies. However, Christians adopt babies at double the rate of the general population, and many Christian parents are awaiting the opportunity to adopt a child.
Choosing adoption over abortion will fulfill a family’s dream of raising children even if biological children are not available to them. Mothers of unintended pregnancies can rest easier knowing that a family who has struggled to conceive will highly value the gift of a child and care for him or her sacrificially.
Ask for Help
If you have found your way to this article searching for resources to help with choosing adoption or choosing abortion, please do not hesitate to reach out to End Abortion Now for help. We have connections across the United States and around the world; we can help connect you to a local church, an adoption agency, or even prospective adoptive parents.
Even in the most extreme circumstances, help is available to you. We love you and your baby—as does God.
If you are an expectant mother, you can always reach out for help or ask for more information by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.