For over one-half of a century a great debate has raged in this country. This debate continues today. There are those who believe in the basic human right for a woman to make her own decisions about her own body. Those opposing this idea are concerned about protecting the human rights of an unborn fetus. Both sides are very passionate about their convictions, and both can make very compelling arguments. However, both sides are so focused on their point of view that they have misrepresented this debate as binary. It is not a binary debate. There is a, seldom discussed, third option. Before we examine this third option, let us closely analyze the two dominant perspectives on this issue.
Many women in this country say they have the human right to make their own decisions about their own body. Remember, going through a pregnancy is one of the most physically taxing experiences that a woman can endure. More importantly, everyone must remember that in this country two women die in childbirth every minute. Yes, childbirth is dangerous. Now, for the government to tell a pregnant woman she must endure the physical complications that accompany pregnancy, and she further must risk their life to comply with a government law, looks like extreme government over reach.
However, those on the pro-life side of this debate have a very powerful point. They focus on the bottom line. Technically, aborting a fetus is killing an unborn child. That is the bottom line and there is no way around it. The idea of killing a child is powerful and disturbing. It is so powerful and disturbing that many people would say that the pro-life supporters have a much stronger argument.
Unfortunately, people on both sides of the issue go round and round with this argument without taking the time to examine this issue clearly and completely. People on both sides are blinded by their passion and, as a result, overlook a third, completely acceptable choice — adoption. Some people may reasonably argue that this is the best option.
According to US Adoption Statics, every year there are 1.3 million abortions in this country, yet only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies choose adoption. This is unfortunate because so often only two aspects of the issue are discussed and adoption is not promoted as another reasonable choice. It is safe to say that there are women who don’t want an abortion, but feel as if they have no other choice because they know that they simply cannot adequately provide for a child. This is a highly emotional and extremely difficult position to be in for any woman. Presenting women with only two choices forces a them to make an intense and life altering decision.
Giving a child up for adoption does not simplify the difficult position in which a woman with an unwanted pregnancy finds herself. It does, however, remove the intensely emotional life or death decision women are typically presented. Importantly, a woman who chooses adoption for her child is still choosing to endure the complications of pregnancy and is still choosing to accept the dangers of childbirth. Yet, no one can burden her with intense guilt by saying she killed her baby. A woman choosing adoption is choosing life while making tremendous sacrifices to provide her child with a greater opportunity at a quality life.
Here social stigma can dramatically affect a woman’s decision. There are women out there who chose adoption, but are asked, “How can you give your baby away?” No woman in this country should face this horrible and cruel question, yet it happens. All this question does is promote a stigma around adoption, pile an inappropriate amount of guilt on the birth mother, and may cause a woman to quietly choose abortion. Adoption is not coldly giving away a baby. It is an intensely emotional decision to give a child a chance at a better life. It is an altruistic act of deep love.
With this third choice in mind, the pro-life promoters have to adjust their focus. Woman who choose adoption should receive deep respect, compassionate understanding, and strong support from pro-life supporters. This is the most intense decision any woman will ever face, and they chose life. Pro-life supports need to attack any stigma surrounding adoption and direct half of their efforts promoting adoption because it is pro-life.
Pro-life supporters need to shift society’s perspectives surrounding adoption. Society should see these women as someone who made great sacrifices, and, in the end, women who choose adoption should be applauded because they chose life.
Gary White was adopted as a child. White spent 10 years living up and down the front range and eventually earned a Bahcelor’s Degree in English Education from Colorado State University. He moved to New Mexico where he taught for 11 years on the Navaho and Zuni Native American reservations. Around the turn of the century, he moved to Colorado Springs, and has worked for Widefield School District 3 ever since.
Gary White was adopted as a child. White spent 10 years living up and down the front range and eventually earned a Bahcelor’s Degree in English Education from Colorado State University. After graduating, he moved to New Mexico where he taught for 11 years on the Navaho and Zuni Native American reservations. Around the turn of the century, he moved to Colorado Springs, and has worked for Widefield School District 3 ever since.