I would like to respond to a comment that was left on one of our Roe v. Wade blogathon diaries. There are three statements within the comment that I would like to address. At best, they are common misconceptions. At worst, they are outright and purposeful lies.
Here is what was said:
…Just because someone is not ready to be a parent (not many of us are) doesnt mean that baby doesnt have the right to live. There are many people who would be ecstatic to adopt a baby. In my opinion if you are woman enough to have sex then you should be woman enough to do the right thing. A baby makes it more difficult to go to do some of the things you want to do, but not impossible. It is just 9 months.
1) “There are many people who would be ecstatic to adopt a baby.”
People like kids. They like adoption. But that doesn’t mean they actually adopt those kids. In 1995, the National Survey of Family Growth asked more than 10,000 women (aged 18-44 who had ever been married) about several topics, including adoption. Of the women asked, 24% had considered adoption, but only 4% had ever taken “concrete steps toward adoption,” and only 1.3% had “ever completed an adoption.”
From 2002 to 2009 (and I’d like to say before that, but those are the years that the chart I found from the Department of Health and Human Services shows, and I‘ll stick to the chart) there have been over 110,000 children waiting to be adopted in public foster care each year, with over 135,000 children in public foster care in 2006. (*This number accounts for all children waiting to be adopted under the age of 16 on September 30, the end of the Fiscal Year, not the full number of children that enter the public foster care system each year.)
It is true, that according to the Department of Health and Human Services, “in 2000 and 2001, about 127,000 children were adopted annually in the United States.” And, according to an American Bar Association Practice and Policy Brief on infants and toddlers in foster care, the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges that “one-third of all children entering foster care are zero to three years of age, and 15% of babies are under age one.”
So yes, there are people who I’m sure are ecstatic when they adopt these children. But suggesting that a woman with an unplanned pregnancy carry her pregnancy to term and then give up her baby for adoption instead of having an abortion for her own personal reasons because there are so many perspective parents waiting ecstatically to adopt that baby, and would be unable to adopt otherwise, is absolutely false. There are well over 110,000 children sitting in public foster care waiting to be adopted on any given day (the HHS Department uses September 30th to calculate the statistics) every year. What about them? Maybe those who consider themselves pro-life should consider the livelihood of those 110,00 children before anyone attacks women (and physicians) for making personal, private decisions.
The second issue I want to address is actually the last point that the commenter made, but it is related to the first point, promoting adoption.
2) “It is just 9 months.”
This is naiveté to the extreme. I do not know the sex or experience of the commenter, but I do not see how this person could have ever experienced a pregnancy and then described it as “just nine months.” Here are some startling facts you may not know:
Rate of maternal mortality:
2003: 12 deaths per 100,000 live births
2004: 13 deaths per 100,000 live births
2006: 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births
(note: the maternal death rate has not been more than 10 per 100,000 since 1977)
According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services, (“Healthy People 2010”) the number “should be around four deaths” per 100,000.
Maternal mortality for white women: 9.5 per 100,000
Maternal mortality for black women: 32 per 100,000
According to a report issued by Amnesty International in 2010, called "Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA,":
the lifetime risk of maternal deaths is greater in the United States than in 40 other countries, including virtually all industrialized nations.
The report also noted that severe pregnancy-related complications that nearly cause death — known as "near misses" — have increased by 25 percent since 1998.
But health concerns and risks aside…
The idea of “it’s just nine months” is insulting. It assumes that we’re just sitting at home doing nothing. That we don’t have anything else going on, so why not incubate a baby for nine months? It’s not like we’ve got anything better to do, like: graduate high school. Graduate college. Start a new job. Buy a house. Start a business. Plan a wedding. Get divorced. Backpack through Europe. Join the Peace Corps. Go to medical school. Or even if we are sitting at home, unemployed, who wouldn’t want to deal with morning sickness and swollen ankles?
And you know what: when I am ready to be a mom, all of the inconveniences will be worth it, because I’ll know that at the end I’ll be a mom, and I’ll be happy because that’s what I chose. (Well, not happy about the morning sickness, but you know what I mean.) But until then, I could never see myself being happy being pregnant because as much as I want to be a mother someday, I am not ready for that someday to be some day soon.
It is not “selfish” to say that I don’t want to spend the next nine months of my life pregnant if I don’t want to be a mother at the end of those nine months.
3) “In my opinion if you are woman enough to have sex then you should be woman enough to do the right thing.”
I think this is one of the most frustrating concepts out there. Let me explain why this is complete bullocks. Thanks to condoms and other safe and reliable forms of birth control, such as the Pill, women and men are truly able to enjoy sex for pleasure. That’s right- sex, mostly, is for pleasure; not procreation. I really don’t know why that’s such a shocking or frightening statement, or something that some people feel they have to rally against. Most people have sex, and I hope that most people enjoy it, so I don’t know why so many people are kidding themselves and are hurting so many others by insisting that sex be strictly for procreation or that legal relationships should be restricted to people who are (theoretically) able to procreate with their partner.
But the point the commenter made wasn’t just about sex, it was about pregnancy, which are actually two extremely different things. What this person doesn’t understand, and what I hope to state clearly, is that just because a person consents to sex that does not mean they consent to pregnancy. This is not the 15th century, people. We know where babies come from. And I say that pregnancy is a choice. With modern birth control and emergency contraception, women are able to prevent pregnancy, and therefore should be able to choose if and when to become pregnant.
But, if they do become pregnant, as of course sometimes does happen for various reasons, (such as lack of knowledge or incorrect information about birth control, inconsistent or incorrect use of birth control, an accident, rape, etc,) then what? Too bad, she’s just stuck with a kid? Even “just for nine months?” I don’t think so. That’s bullocks. If a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, no person and no government has the right to tell her she has to be. I mean, are you kidding? Of course they don’t. If your reasoning for forcing her to carry out the pregnancy is that “she had sex,” you have to face up to the fact that sex is not “for” procreation, and that when she had sex she was not consenting to nine months of pregnancy.
One more point: You make the moral implication that adoption is “the right thing,” meaning that abortion would be “the wrong thing.” Pregnancy and family planning decisions are personal, and made individually. A person or couple starts their family when they are best able, and the timing of that choice is for them to decide- not for you or for anyone else to judge. What works for one family may not work for another, and vice versa, so even if you don’t yet understand why it’s important for a women to be able to choose when and if to become a mother, please don’t get in the way of women making that decision for themselves.