NYT Letters To The Editor On Abortion vs. Adoption Continue An Revealing Unethical Pattern


Perhaps no comment during the recent oral argument before SCOTUS regarding Mississippi’s Roe-defying 15 week abortion limit received more attention than Justice Amy Coney Barrett statement that a mother’s option to give a baby up for adoption at birth rendered abortion was unnecessary in most cases. Numerous abortion defenders have attempted to discredit her assertion, and, like all of the pro-abortion arguments I have seen and heard so far, fell short in logic, honesty and ethics

Today’s Sunday Times letters section exemplified the disconnect among reality, self-interest and fairness that continue to plague abortion fans, no matter how passionately they argue their position. The Times dedicated the section to rebuttals of Comey’s assertion. That the editors deemed these the cream of the crop is telling. Also telling: no letter selected by the editors supported Comey. Here are the key quotes from each:

Anne Matlack Evans, of Napa, California writes in part,

In 1954, my mother, a single mother of three young children, had no other option than to do just what Justice Barrett proposes. After losing her job because of the pregnancy, she took refuge with her mother and, several months later, gave birth to a child whom she gave up that very day….

The consequences of my mother’s pregnancy and the baby’s adoption profoundly affected my mother and us children. She was traumatized by the pregnancy and the necessity of abandoning a child — especially so after caring for us. She felt ashamed, stigmatized and less able to protect her existing children.

Ethics Alarms Comment: Why did a single mother have three children? Why did she get pregnant again? She felt ashamed and stigmatized about giving up a live infant for abortion that she couldn’t care for, but apparently would have flt no stigma or shame if she ended the nascent human being’s life before it could be born. That’s exactly the confused attitude that our culture needs to change. Her unborn child “existed” before it was born.

David Leonard of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania writes in part,

Before Roe v. Wade my wife and I adopted in Chicago a Black newborn daughter in 1968 and a 2-month-old son in 1971. We celebrate the happy family they helped to create.

In 1968 our adoption case worker told us that about 300 Black children a day were put up for adoption in Chicago by mothers from around the country, and no more than 10 percent of these children were ever adopted. They went into orphanages or foster care instead…

Black mothers who cared deeply about what would happen to their children if they were put up for adoption (as did the parents of the two infants who joined our family) were rightly fearful of the traumatic and inadequate care they would receive if fostered.

Were Roe v. Wade to be overturned, adoption would not be a realistic alternative to abortion for many babies born into single-parent and/or poor households, and foster care systems would be further overwhelmed.

EA Comment: Better to kill them, then?

Karen Kempler, of San Francisco, reasons,

When I was a freshman in college, I got pregnant…I was trying to get an illegal abortion (I never wanted children), but when my widowed mother found out, she sent me to a home for unwed mothers…After I gave birth… I told her she would have to choose me or the baby. She chose me, but when I came home, she withdrew my support for college and kicked me out of the house to support myself.

So, Justice Barrett, safe haven laws aren’t the solution. An unwanted pregnancy can destroy a future, a marriage or even a life.

EA Comment: How is the baby responsible for how Kempler’s mother reacted to her pregnancy? An unwanted pregnancy can “destroy a future, a marriage or even a life;” an abortion always ends a life. Every ethical system holds that the latter is the unethical resolution of that dilemma.

Ann Whitfield Powers of Portland Oregon writes in part,

We are fortunate to know our son’s birth parents. While they were sure that placing their child for adoption was the right thing to do, it was incredibly hard for them….Even as my heart filled with love for this new child, it was breaking for the pain and loss I saw on the birth parents’ faces. Justice Amy Coney Barrett acts as if it’s no big deal to put your baby up for adoption…

EA Comment: It is not a big deal for the birth parents when compared to the magnitude of the “deal” for the adopted child given a chance at life.

Mary Kelly, Denver, Colorado writes in part,

The birth mothers of all three of our now adult children have tearfully told me that they hope their child “doesn’t hate” them for placing them for adoption. They are racked with guilt and have been for decades. Our children have wondered over the years why they were placed for adoption, but not their older or younger siblings…Adoption is a blessing beyond belief, and it is also fraught.

EA Comment: OK, it’s “fraught.” Better to kill the children pre-birth than to have them feel betrayed by their birth parents? My son’s adopted; his Russian mother gave him up because she couldn’t care for him. I think I’ll ask him about this letter. ALL these letters….

Ann Crosbie,Carlsbad, California, writes in part,

…Your body knows you have given birth and it wants you to be looking for that baby. You walk into a room with that feeling like when you’ve forgotten your glasses. There are tears. There are jags of tears and “what ifs” even when you aren’t forced to place a child for adoption. Because, to be clear, that is what the justice is suggesting — not that a woman would make the choice to go through the pain of relinquishing her baby. I made it through it all, and remain happy with the outcome, because I had a choice.

Ethics Alarms Comment: A choice between letting a human being progress through the stages of life to birth and eventually childhood and a full life, or avoiding that awful feeling that you’ve “forgotten your glasses.”

Jessica O’Dwyer, Tiburon, California writes,

…In many ways, my family is the “model adoptive family” — in reunion with birth relatives, happy and well adjusted, open in discussing feelings. But for years my kids cried themselves to sleep wondering why their birth mothers “gave them away,” while their birth mothers and siblings express anguish and sadness at missing large chunks of their children’s lives.

Adoption is a huge, profound event with never-ending ramifications. To pretend it’s an easy and uncomplicated alternative to abortion is naïve.

Ethics Alarms Comment: Do you see a theme here? Deflection, avoidance of the issue, denial. Whether adoption is “fraught,” easy or hard, it allows a human being to live. What is naïve is to believe the alternatives are equal in value and ethical validity.

5 thoughts on “NYT Letters To The Editor On Abortion vs. Adoption Continue An Revealing Unethical Pattern

  1. “ She was traumatized by the pregnancy and the necessity of abandoning a child.”
    I’m certain a abortion killing her child would have left worse marks. This is not the 1950’s. Why do people keep thinking it is? We have many, many more kinds of birth control and a morning after pill. If you don’t want to get pregnant, there are ways available today that were not available to my mother or grandmother. Abortion is antiquated. I know parents who put an implant in their kids arm to not get pregnant. They don’t even have to remember to take a pill. So.. no “my grandmother or mother could have used this in the 1950’s to ease her burden” is a horrible argument for today. It’s a scapegoat for irresponsibility and people who don’t want to own up to their decisions. As always, the most vulnerable of all, the child, suffers the most. I am aware that a lot of abortions are by kids having kids. I don’t have an answer since we’ve also encouraged sex with anyone you feel like. There’s no stigma to any of it. Those kids know what’s available too. Many schools have condoms in the bathrooms. For teens, I’m sure the cost of birth control is a issue as well as getting the script. However, it’s less than the cost of a abortion.

  2. “Why did a single mother have three children?”
    It IS possible she became a single mother after the conception of the third child; but I agree with the rest of your comments.

    On the adoption topic: My wife and I were told we would never have any children and so, after a while, we decided to adopt. SEVEN YEARS into the process and just six months from likely adoption we found out my wife was pregnant and were put ‘on hold’ subject to a successful pregnancy. When our son arrived we were no longer eligible for an adoption.

    Trust me, a nine month gestation is a much more suitable period!

    This is Australia, of course, and so it is difficult to make direct comparisons with the USA.

    Apart from my ethical and moral opposition to abortion, I also object to the ‘my body, my choice’ bullshit argument on the grounds that I am forced to help fund, via my taxes going to Medicare rebates, what I consider to be the murder of the unborn. Please don’t tell me I don’t have any right to comment on the topic whilst you are robbing me!

  3. There is some sense in which offering adoption as an alternative to abortion is too facile an answer, but that is because the question itself is wrong. Adoption as an alternative to abortion is predicated upon abortion being “necessary” because raising the child would be an intractable hardship. Yet as several of the letters in the TImes op-ed section have shown, the “need” for abortion extends to very difficult, to difficult, to even inconvenient situations. I don’t want to make light of those situations, but overall, the only real answer to those complaints is “Grow up.”

    Life is difficult. We’ve surrounded ourselves with unbelievable comforts, we’ve tamed rampant diseases, we’ve alleviated malnutrition and the consequences of exposure for the vast majority of people in the developed world. And as we’ve done so, we’ve grown increasingly intolerant of any amount of suffering at all. A child is an enormous responsibility, and taking care of a child requires putting plans on hold, working harder and longer hours (because raising a child is work, no doubt about it), even sacrificing lifelong ambitions.

    But life demands sacrifices of us in innumerable other situations. A star athlete in high-school, headed to college on a sport scholarship, who ends up injured and unable to compete has to face a drastic reorientation of her life. A corporate executive who ends up in a car wreck and injuring his brain will have to accept the fact he can no longer perform the work he once did. An economic downturn can make it impossible for someone to find a job in his chosen profession. Unfortunate incidents beyond our control can utterly destroy our dreams. Yet the world doesn’t simply stop because these personal calamities occur.

    If abortion becomes illegal, it will cause hardship for people. Yet the fundamental hardship isn’t the difficulty in completing school, or dealing with social stigmas, or having to abandon career goals, or struggling through the emotional pangs of giving a child up for adoption. The fundamental hardship is that people will have to learn to respect human sexuality for what it is: the means by which new human life is generated.

    Whenever I’ve discussed abortion with a pro-choice advocate who was willing to converse for more than a few seconds, the conversation ultimately boiled down to an unwillingness to curtail sexual activity. Yes, having a baby might interfere with climbing the corporate ladder. But rather than make the sacrifice (and it is a sacrifice!) and refrain from activities which would greatly hamper that ambition, we want to have our cake and eat it too. It is unthinkable that we’d cut back on sexual activity. Our entire society keeps promulgating the message that we’re incapable of controlling our sexual urges, and that we just need to protect ourselves against the natural consequences of sex.

    It is an interesting aspect of history that almost everywhere that contraception was made legal, legalized abortion soon followed. The courts in the U.S. even admitted that the decision to abort a child followed from the decision to contracept (cf Planned Parenthood v Casey, which indicates that the decision to abort is of the same nature as the decision to contracept, and that Roe v Wade sought to protect those same liberties that were “protected” through contraception, namely the State’s unwillingness to demand a woman undertake the sufferings and peril of pregnancy and motherhood). If we’re taking action to prevent pregnancy (while still engaging in that very activity design to result in pregnancy), and we (shock!) end up pregnant, we feel we are owed compensation. Someone has to pay for the fact that we did everything in our power to avoid becoming pregnant, and still ended up pregnant. Since we never wanted the child, and did things to ensure that child did not exist, then it isn’t that big of a thing to erase the child that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

    Are there legitimately difficult cases? Of course there are. I can feel a great deal of sympathy for a young woman who finds herself pregnant and abandoned by the father. I understand the weight of dealing with another mouth to feed when income is scarce, work uncertain, and living arrangements subject to change every season. These cause extreme tensions in the home and can lead to all kinds of dysfunction among the children later on. But the idea that these situations are “solved” through abortion is wildly wrong. Rather, these situations are made more readily available because of the perception that there is an easy out from the consequences of self-serving sexual indulgence.

    So we have fundamentally two attitudes to change. One is to help people understand that life, however altered, is not ended much less bereft of meaning when unintended events happen that tear apart our carefully craft plans. The other is to change the perception that we can indulge in sexual activity however we see fit because of the abundance of easy outs for any of the consequences. Without addressing those two attitudes, adoption as an alternative to abortion is merely weeping bandage over a bloody wound.

  4. So many half-hearted attempts to villainize adoption, when I’m forced to wonder: what would happen if we raised a generation with half as much zeal for the noble act of adoption? If, instead of casting adoption as abortion’s ugly younger sibling, we raised a generation steeped in the notion that taking care of a child not your own was a life goal worth attaining? If all these people bending over backwards to justify the unjustifiable, we instead set out on a course of utilizing the awesome, brainwashing powers of media and social manipulation to bring about a goal that helped poor and unwanted children, rather than rooting for their deaths? It seems to me that as little as 10 years in movies, school curriculums, and the mouths of pundits, intellectuals, and influences- as well as the pruning back of a few regulations which serve to complicate the process – that most of the complaints you have about the evils of adoption would be eased, if not fixed entirely. When you ponder the vastness of all the forces currently being used to prop up the notion that it’s a blessing to be able to kill your children at will, and to instill that as a value worth fighting for in the next generation, why, that force could accomplish nearly anything! Who knows what sorts of societal ills could be handwoven away with a modicum of effort. But no, this is clearly the best of all possible solutions, so let’s keep wrangling away about the solutions rather than fixing the problem. The same problem which has plagued nearly every civilization since the dawn of man – what to do with uncared for children? If only there were a massive social blitzkrieg available and powerful enough to convince nearly anyone of nearly anything. Alas!

  5. Your excellent points speak my mind and I thank you.
    I have numerous adopted relatives, our lives would not be the same without them. I pray for their birth mothers, may their hearts be assured that their children are loved and we’re so grateful.
    Thank you for this “ethics alarm”.

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