Amy Coney Barrett’s suggestion that adoption is a simple alternative to abortion is shocking. To make this suggestion from a mother of seven — who has both been pregnant and been in the process of adoption — is dangerous.
During the pleadings in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi affair seeking annulment Roe vs. Wade, Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked if abortion was really necessary given the existence of shelter laws.
For some, it was reminiscent of when, three years ago, during the immigration crisis at the border, then White House chief of staff John Kelly casually noted children torn from their parents that “the children will be taken care of – placed in foster care or otherwise” without worrying about what would happen next.
During Julie Rickelman’s argument on behalf of abortion clinics, Barrett explained that:
… Roe and Casey both focus on the burdens of parenthood, and as you and many of your friends focus on how forced parenting, forced motherhood, would hinder women’s access to health. work and equal opportunities, it also focuses on parental consequences and maternity obligations that arise from pregnancy. Why are shelter laws not addressing this problem?
Safe shelter laws have been created to allow mothers to safely abandon their children without fear of criminal prosecution or involvement of the child protection system in response to an alleged increase in the number of abandoned babies in dangerous places. Mothers who are unable to care for their children can drop their babies off at fire stations or hospitals where the state can pick them up. Barrett’s position is therefore that the right to abortion is not necessary because mothers do not have to endure the burden of motherhood if they do not want to, because they have the option of giving them up. in a “safe” place.
As many have pointed out, this argument ignores the fact that pregnancy itself has a profound impact on a woman’s life and is accompanied by a lot of risks, especially in a state like Mississippi which has an unusually high maternal mortality rate. In addition, the decision to abort which can be complicated for some and easy for others, maybe a totally different calculation than the decision to abandon a child after having carried it to term. Just as people have abortions for a variety of deeply personal reasons, people may choose adoption for other reasons. Adoption is not and never will be the equivalent of the right to abortion for a victim of incest or someone who becomes pregnant after being raped.
Pregnancy itself has a profound impact on a woman’s life and comes with many risks, especially in a state like Mississippi which has an unusually high maternal mortality rate.
To suggest that adoption is a simple or equivalent alternative to abortion is shocking. To make this suggestion from a mother of seven, who has both been pregnant and been in the process of adoption, is dangerous.
As a professor of law Melissa Murray noted, Barrett adds a layer of perceived authority to speak out on issues such as the only mother in court. And, of course, one can have an informed opinion on a subject without personal experience. However, the the right tried to capitalize on Barrett as an expert in everything related to motherhood, even though she herself has never aborted or given birth for adoption.
Importantly, what Barrett’s “pro-life” stance also lacks is the impact on the living child.
His rosy version of shelter laws being a direct route from abandonment to adoption is simply not based on the facts. Last year, as is typical, over 400,000 children were in foster care. Of these, only 4 percent were pre-adoptive households. Over 100,000 children were awaiting adoption, meaning their parents’ legal rights had been terminated or the state’s goal for them was adoption. And only 12 percent of those the children were in a pre-adoption home. For many children, even if they are eventually adopted, some time will be spent in foster care. And fostering is not always a safe haven.
For many children, even if they are eventually adopted, some time will be spent in foster care. And fostering is not always a safe haven.
Many children report abuse with a host family. A study of the ancients of Casey Family Programs found that 21 percent of children surveyed had experienced abuse in foster care. Another one study in Georgia found that for children whose case focus was adoption, 34 percent had experienced some type of harm, including foster abuse or neglect.
Additionally, foster children are experiencing mental health issues at an unprecedented rate. A study found that 43 percent of foster children were diagnosed with depression, and 2 percent were diagnosed with PTSD. Another found rates of PTSD that were almost twice that of American veterans. And for the many children who age in foster care without being adopted, they have no legal connection to their families and no safety net to rely on, which prepares them for particularly dire outcomes.
Imagine if Barrett’s worldview came true and the nearly 900,000 women who had an abortion in 2017 carried their children to term. If even half of them took advantage of the shelter laws, it double the number of children in foster care that year alone, stretching an already overloaded system. In a state like Texas, where one in five children is poor and children in foster care are already sleeping on the floor of the agency’s offices, life is already dark.
But as is often the case with Conservatives, Barrett’s pro-life argument ends at the point of birth. Because of course, if a mother doesn’t want her child, once it’s born, she can give it up for adoption or whatever.