I read a blog here on WordPress today, I’ve read a variety of her posts, but today I was intrigued by two of her entries, and this is the first one for which I will write about. As the title indicates, it has to do with abortion. The author of the blog called Burning Sugarcane, argues that in order to reduce abortions we should facilitate women who wish to put their children up for adoption instead. She also believes that both birth control and abstinence are good measures to which will facilitate a reduction in unintended pregnancies. You can read it by clicking [here]. I happen to agree with all three sentiments, but I feel the need to express various issues, and expand upon a larger pictures. Normally, I would be the first person to reject this argument, however the author’s points were valid, and she didn’t reject other options. For example, most of those who I argue with believe that birth control shouldn’t be available, that laws should demand abstinence only programs, and that abortions should be completely illegal. The author however made no mention of whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal. I will however express my opinion on this issue.
First, I will begin with stating that I agree with the author that the answer doesn’t lie within the birth control/abstinence debate. Believing that the answer lies between either of them signifies a deeply rooted level of naivety and ignorance surrounding the entire issue. I say this not to be rude, but because the answer doesn’t revolve around just one thing, but rather many. However, I disagree with the author’s method of statement. To quote, she says: “I don’t think Birth Control versus Abstinence Battle is where we will reduce the number of abortions.” I disagree for one reason, and one reason only: reducing the number of unintended pregnancies will invariably reduce the number of abortions by the very statistical fact that there won’t be any babies to abort, or at least a much smaller number. I certainly caution against anyone who argues against the use of birth control. Given the statistics related to abortion, and those who seek them, it would be highly irresponsible to constrict – more so than it already is, financially – the access to birth controls. And second, abstinence only perspectives rhetorically ignore a number of issues. I have no qualms with getting people to simply abstain from sexual relations, it’s the perfect method to avoid becoming pregnant. However, kids who aren’t properly taught about sexual education will more than likely not understand the responsibilities associated with sexual relations; and some studies have shown there to be a correlation between abortion rates and domestic abuse/marital rape. Essentially, the reasons for seeking out abortions are complex, and diverse which overwhelmingly leads to a solution that is also complex and diverse.
Second, I don’t, nor would I ever argue against the option for putting a child up for adoption as compared to seeking an abortion. I for one am adopted. However, I don’t believe the answer lies solely in putting kids up for adoption. Further still, I hear many arguments that furiously demand that those who become pregnant unintentionally should not seek an abortion, but rather put it up for adoption – that we must facilitate such movements. Which is all fine and dandy, but I feel like the argument is nothing more than a rhetorical one aimed mainly to be a counter-argument to abortion, which provides no true solution to the causes. This is not directed at the author for whom I am responding, I feel as though she genuinely believes in the movement rather than using it as a regurgitated rebuttal to the topic of abortion. More to my point, the facilitation of putting children up for adoption is well regurgitated, but I rarely hear about the facilitation for folks to adopt. In order for such a plan to function, and function as intended, and well, programs would also be needed to seek out parents who want to adopt. You can’t facilitate one without the other, and I will expand upon this in a moment. Those who read this are probably thinking to themselves “well duhh”, and maybe it is common sense to those who hold such a view on this topic – but it’s important to understand that of the thousands of news articles that I have read, and hundreds of discussions that I have had with folks on this topic, I rarely hear about efforts to facilitate the actual adoption, only the act of putting a child up for adoption. And to me, it’s just as important to the solution as a whole. Further still, I have yet to hear a politician, who is typically the person controlling the direction of this topic, make the point either.
With all that having been said, I am skeptical about any approach that leans heavily on trying to get women to instead put their children up for adoption. First of all, strictly speaking about the United States, based on a report from the Adoption Council, reported that in 2005, there were 513,000 children in foster care, 24,407 (4.7%) of which aged out of the program. Also indicated was a 26.3% (119,776 to 151,332) increase in adoptions between 1996 and 2002, but that domestic adoption placements have decreased. Based on 2010 statistics however, there were 408,425 children in foster care: 51% were reunited with their parents (51% also had the case goal of reunification). Based on a 2011 report detailing 2007 & 2008 adoption statistics, results included: the number of adoptions has risen by 6%, the adoption rate has decreased by 5%. Of the 271,814 children who were adopted between 2007 and 2008, 14% (36,985) were adopted from another country, 40% (107,960) are from public agencies, and 47% (126,869) are from other sources (step parents, surrogate mothers, etc.). To top this off, there are only 18,000 annual newborn adoptions each year. This number excludes foster care and adoptions where a relative was the person adopting the child. Regardless, that’s only about 10% of total adoptions.
My skepticism stems from the fact that the adoption rate is decreasing, which doesn’t bode well for a system that would otherwise have an influx of 1.21 million children – which is the number of abortions for 2008. Keep in mind that we’re only discussing United States statistics. Also keep in mind that domestic adoption statistics in the United States are relatively hard to come by due to a number of circumstances. While there are websites that indicate worldwide orphanages to be at some 132 million, this number is skewed. Although they will cite UNICEF (and yet don’t actually cite it), they aren’t being entirely honest. According to UNICEF, there are 132 million, but this number includes children who have lost one parent, and still have the other. The actual number of orphans who have lost both parents is more like 13 million.  But this underscores my skepticism, according to various articles, the total number of adoptions each year is around 250,000 – or anywhere between 1 and 2% depending on the year. Yes, that’s 1 to 2% of children worldwide being adopted.  And while this may sound harsh, and people will undoubtedly take this the wrong way, had no abortions been sought, the number of worldwide orphans would be more than double what it is now.
While I am not directing this next statement at the author, I do feel that many folks don’t understand the circumstances revolving around abortion. According to Guttmacher, 36% of abortions are sought out by white women, 30% from black women, and 32% from Hispanic women, and 10% from other races. Once you take into consideration their respective population sizes, you see that black women are disproportionately seeking out abortions. 45% of those women have never been married. 61% have one or more children. 42% are below 100% of the poverty level, and 27% are between 100 – 199% of the poverty level. 18% are teenagers. More importantly, the reasons why women seek abortions: 75% can’t afford a child, 75% would say that a child would interfere with work, school, or their ability to care for someone else, 50% don’t want to be a single parent, and 75% are concerned with responsibility conflicts. Many individuals who are opponents to abortion-rights are, in my opinion, rather vile in their opposition. I’ve heard many people – many men in fact – state how women who seek abortions are whores, sluts, and otherwise just plain irresponsible. I’m an advocate of, don’t judge lest ye wish to be judged as well, or my personal favorite – let he who has no sinned cast the first stone. The point is, we all make mistakes on varying degrees. Many mistakes are genuine mistakes, and mistakes occur under intense life situations, such as poverty, and income related anxieties. And more importantly, it takes two to tango, so, if you’re a reading this and feel that women deserve the entire blame, I just have to ask: Did you pressure your girlfriend or wife to have sex with you? When the last you asked to have some fun did you get whiney when she said no? Better still, did you pout? Did you use some form of emotional coercion to get what you wanted? You might say no, and if so that’s great – but not all dudes say no. Fact is, women get pressured, emotionally and otherwise to go through with sex, even when they’re not in the mood. Regardless of this little ramble, 50% of the child came from someone else, which means that the woman doesn’t deserve 100% of the ridicule in having to make an extremely hard decision.
Moving forward, I do believe that contraception and family planning can help significantly reduce abortion rates by simply reducing unintended pregnancy rates. Some 50% of pregnancies are unintended, and 40% of those are aborted, or 22% of all pregnancies. By race, 40% of white, 67% of black, and 53% of Hispanic pregnancies are unintended. 54% of women who sought abortions were using some form of contraception, but only 13% reported using pills correctly, and 14% of condoms correctly; or 76% of those using the pill, and 49% of those using condoms misused them. Another 46% of women who sought abortions; 32% had concerns about contraception, 26% had unexpected sex, 1% due to rape, and 33% due to beliefs that they were at low risk of actually becoming pregnant. Based on these statistics, abstinence programs tailored towards reducing teen pregnancy would reduce abortion rates by 6.4%, or the 76,800 abortions sought out by teenagers between the ages of 17 and below the age of 15. Further still, almost half of abortions could be reduced if couples used contraception properly. Although people like to attribute a failed contraceptive use to irresponsibility, many times, when it relates to birth control, the failure has more to do with financial burdens. Meaning, failure to use birth control properly stems from their ability afford it for the next month, or a few days, therefore missing it and believing to be okay. This is why, for me, I am personally in favor of organizations that help to give women birth control at significantly reduced costs, as it takes away that financial burden. Organizations like Planned Parenthood.
The point is, the reasons behind a person choosing to get an abortion are inextricably tied to financial incapacities and poverty. Women already make between 5 and 25% less than their male counter parts with the same credentials, and same training – it’s a statistical fact. Divorce rates are at an estimated 50% – estimated. Some 1 in 50 children in the United States are homeless, which is a growing trend over the last ten years. Single parent households are also growing, and to be a single mother with one child is much more difficult than a single child with two parents – imagine being a single mother of one, with the possibility of another, in an economy such as this. And, the cost of adoption isn’t cheap, the cost can range between $4,000 and $40,000, with the price varying for every reason under the sun, and it takes an average of two years when dealing with domestic newborn adoptions.  I for one intend on adopting a child or two when I am financially capable, but I can tell you that the average of $20,000 to $40,000 is going to make it more difficult than I had hoped. To put that average cost in comparison, the average United States household income between 2006 and 2010 was about $51,914. Mississippi had the lowest average income of $37,985, and New Hampshire had an average household income of $66,707. Many things go into these larger averages, including population sizes (which fluctuate averages, but not so important here), standard of living, certain economic substances, etc. In any case, statistically, a four person family with a combined income of $75,000 a year will spend roughly 92% of it by necessity – that’s not a lot of money left over to adopt. This trend follows as the income declines, and statistically, by the time you’re income is in the twenty-thousands, you’re spending almost 100%, if you aren’t essentially in debt in some shape or form. Poverty thresholds for 2012: 2 people – $15,130, 3 people – $19,090, 4 people – 23,050. Further still, children are overwhelmingly suffering from poverty, in this country and abroad, some 21.6% (38.2% for black, and 32.3% for Hispanic) of U.S. kids – or 15.7 million. Some 22,000 kids die each day because they live in poverty. Almost half of children – worldwide – live in poverty, or 1 billion out of 2.2. As a matter of fact, some 10.6 million kids in 2003 died before the age of three, 1.4 million due to lack of accessible, clean, safe drinking water.
Think about it, more kids die each year because they can’t drink clean water than the United States aborts every year. My skepticism and frustration stems from our pretentious attitude towards abortion, when nine-times as many children are dying because they lack basic necessities, that we could have funded one-thousand times over at the expense of one year’s worth of funding of our military. While opponents to abortion-rights and access are pandering to this idea that abortion-rights activists are just supporting infanticide, the real problem of children dying is much worse else-where in the world. I simply am of the opinion at this stage, that adoption activists should worry less about the actual act of abortion, and worry more about the causes of abortion – poverty, financial problems, marriage related issues, access to birth control and other family planning programs. I get really frustrated with the staunch anti-Planned Parenthood folks, who would defund the organization because 3% of its funds goes towards abortions. This is highly irresponsible, and very irrational. The organization works in predominantly poor areas where men, woman, and children are assisted, and given access to birth controls in order to prevent pregnancies. I just think it’s silly to defund an organization under those merits, because that simple action could result in more abortions, not less.
I believe abortion to be a circumstance inextricably related to poverty, I believe that the statistics and the data speak for themselves on this issue. The solution to this issue is complex. First, I believe that women should maintain the right to reproductive freedom. Constricting their access to healthcare, especially birth control, unduly burdens women who already pay some 15% more in healthcare costs due to contraception, will only worsen the problem. I believe that women who seek abortions should be treated with dignity, respect, and support for making a very hard decision. I believe that, in order to be informed entirely, that options for adoption should be made and explained, but that the decision that is come to should be respected without fear of ridicule and social penalization. I think that abortion rates would decline if children had to go through some level of quality sexual education. I believe that parents should take a much more pro-active and responsible approach in furthering their children’s understanding of sex, the actions, and the consequences. I believe that abstinence should also be emphasized. I believe that poverty issues should be combated, more so than they already are. I believe that family and marriage therapy should be given to help decrease divorce rates. And, if adoption is truly going to work, costs need to be reduced. Laws, apparently aren’t very strict with respect to most states. But poverty thresholds are expected to reach $40,000 in the next 50 years if current trends continue. For this to work, programs must aim to facilitate the number of adoptions at the same pace, if not more so than the rate of placing children up for adoption. And, a topic that I didn’t discuss in length, is that children born of color (blacks and Hispanics) are usually passed up for white babies – meaning, white people prefer white babies – this trend must stop. Ultimately, the solution requires everything – not just one thing. And it certainly doesn’t mean cutting organizations that do good.
I have obviously strayed from the moral arguments surrounding the abortion debate, and for good reason. Morality is a subjective experience, and understanding. Many Christians, and Non-Christians are unintentionally impregnated every year, and it required strength to make any decision when such an event occurs. I will not drudge through a morality debate on this topic. It’s fruitless, and such a conversation – however rhetorical that it will inevitably be – will never, ever lead to a progressive, concise, and reasonable solution to reducing abortion rates and numbers. So please, before anyone reads this, and responds with the typical ‘you’re just a liberal’, ‘you’re a baby-killer’, ‘you’re a baby eater’, etc, etc., please read what I wrote, and understand my argument. Ideology does nothing more than stand in the way of progress, and real solutions. Regardless, this is my expansion, agreement, and skepticism towards the article I read.
I wish to express gratitude to the author of Burning Sugarcane, as she was open to my writing a reaction/rebuttal/response, and for facilitating discussion on this matter. My hope is that any reactions from anyone will be civil. Thank you.
*This article was revised 21st of August, 2012 – 4:37 PM: revisions were to particular grammatical errors, as well as formatting errors that occurred.
 National Adoption Report. (2007). National Council For Adoption. Summer 2007. (https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/images/stories/documents/NARSummer07.pdf)
 Foster Care Statistics. (2010). Child Welfare Information Gateway. (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/foster.pdf#Page=1&view=Fit)
 How Many Children Were Adopted in 2007 and 2008? (2011). Child Welfare Information Gateway. (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/adopted0708.pdf#Page=8&view=Fit)