Is Adoption Reform Common Ground on Abortion?

Gloria Feldt

Those who support a woman's right to choose and those who oppose it should be able to work together to forge common ground for policies that make adoption a genuine choice.

See another post by Gloria Feldt, "Possibly the Most Idiotic Common Ground Discussion I’ve Ever Heard."

Yes, of course. Adoption reform is an issue on which those who oppose abortion and those who support a woman’s right to choose abortion should be able to work together to forge common ground for policies that make adoption a genuine choice.

See there, Steve Waldman and I have found common ground already. So now let’s get to the points of contention Waldman, the editor-in-chief of Beliefnet raised in response to my last post, referencing a proposal he made, intended (though I doubt it would) to reduce abortions. The exchange came about as part of RHRealityCheck’s "On Common Ground" convo.

I do appreciate that Waldman acknowledges his suggestion that women be paid to “give their babies up for adoption instead of having an abortion” was a “half baked idea”. Unfortunately, he then leapt to a wildly incorrect assumption when he wrote:

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Gloria Feldt, in her post, "Possibly the Most Idiotic Common Ground Discussion I’ve Ever Heard," writes, "Remind me, how do you spell "c-o-e-r-c-i-o-n"? How much money would it take to make you carry a pregnancy to term against your will?"
Feldt’s comment implies that a woman would invariably prefer having an abortion to placing a baby up for adoption.

Whoa horse, let’s stop right there. Not only do I imply no such thing; my entire point is that women faced with unintended pregnancy should not be coerced, urged, or even encouraged in any direction. They should be supported in making their own childbearing decisions and the playing field should be leveled so that they have full access to exercise their options.

To suggest that women need to be steered in any direction, whether with financial incentives, social approbation, or laws, is to imagine that women have no brains, no hearts, and/or no consciences. It is utter disrespect for a woman’s moral authority…for her very humanity, actually.

You will not likely find one person in the pro-choice world who opposes adoption or who would not work to make sure women have access to all the information, counseling, health care services, and social supports they need to be able to make free and uncoerced decisions to relinquish for adoption. But the conversation, unfortunately, often breaks down there—by those opposed to abortion, as historian Blake Ellis describes here.

Because to be able to make an informed decision, one must have unbiased, unfettered access to all the information, counseling, health care services, and social supports she needs to consider each of the choices available to her: adoption, parenting, and abortion.

None of these choices is easy. A woman knows full well that she is giving up something profound in return. Choice, you see, is sacrifice as well as freedom.

Which brings me to my second point that engendered Waldman’s contention:

And I disagree with the apparent inclination of some on the pro-choice side to minimize the adoption question entirely. "The real common ground is preventing unintended pregnancy, and it is logically incorrect not to start with that framework," writes Feldt.

Actually, that would be called "our team winning," not "common ground." 

This is where Waldman and his partner in pontification, Will Saletan truly earned the title given their Bloggingheads conversation about the pay-for-pregnancy/adoption scheme: “Two Men, No Uteruses”.

I have a birds and bees news flash for you, gentlemen: if there were no unintended pregnancies, there would be precious few abortions, and we could all save our breath for other debates. That’s why preventing unintended pregnancies is the widest swath of common ground. It’s about making real people’s lives better, not some zero-sum notion of winning and losing a political game. Prevention offers the abundance of future life choices that most of us want for our daughters—or ourselves.

On the cusp of Independence Day, these words from the Declaration of Independence are a good example of how easy it is to miss an injustice:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…

Without taking anything away from the great document, when we look at those words with our 21st century sensibilities, even most of the men among us probably observe that the female half of our nascent country was left out, invisible in the culture of the day.

Unfortunately Waldman’s framework leaves women out of the picture just as clearly. All I’m asking is that women’s inalienable rights be respectfully placed, at last, into the ranks of citizens deemed equal, and justly empowered to give their own consent.

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