In April, I wrote a satire article titled The Real Reason We Need To Ban Abortion Now, in which I adopted a rather wicked perspective that considered human suffering and death as acceptable costs for creating American jobs.
In this article, I am not employing satire. Instead, this is a call to action for both sides of the abortion debate to start focusing on the actual causes of unwanted pregnancies, and the implications that they have for society.
While everyone has been busy screaming at each other over a woman’s right to choose, the most important issue regarding abortion is being largely neglected. Behind every abortion, there is a sad story, a tragic reason, and a potentially unwanted child.
The popular talking points currently surrounding the abortion debate are primarily pitted somewhere between a woman’s right to control her own body, and the right to life of a fetus. None of these points actually address why each year millions of women are getting pregnant under circumstances that are adverse for raising a child, nor do they consider the societal implications of creating children that will not be properly cared for.
As of the publishing of this article, four U.S. states have passed heartbeat bills that effectively ban abortions, Alabama has essentially banned abortion outright, and Missouri and Ohio are quickly following suit. While all of these new laws have yet to go into effect, the mere passage of them has raised alarms all across America.
Why are there so many women in America that cannot take care of a new child, and how can we help?
The actions taken by these states are clearly unlawful and deride the landmark decision that was handed down from the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in 1973. According to that ruling, no government in America can lawfully place any restriction on a woman’s ability to choose during the first trimester of pregnancy (Nowak and Rotunda, 2007).
The Supreme Court did, however, leave the door open for the law to change:
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, in this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer. — Roe, 410 U.S. at 159.
The ruling was clear that should more proof arise in the future regarding when a fetus actually becomes alive, then the new evidence could be enough to change the existing law. However, as far as determining when life actually begins, we are in exactly the same place today as we were in 1973, as there is still no clear evidence to prove that a fetus is actually alive.
Despite the fact that the recent state actions are blatantly unlawful, the passage of these new laws has managed to reignite the fiery battle over the future of legal abortion in America.
Many pro-choice supporters are concerned that the Republican party is attempting to force another case into the Supreme Court with the goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. While that concern is indeed valid, neither side appears to care much about what the other side believes. Both sides should, therefore, attempt to focus on what they have in common: children.
From the womb to the prison cell
Aborting a pregnancy during the first trimester is legal, and it ought to remain so, however, having the right to a legal and medically safe abortion should not excuse society from addressing the root of the problem.
Millions of women who simply cannot take care of a child are getting pregnant each year.
The solution to this should not be to focus on figuring out how to stop these women from becoming pregnant in the first place, but rather identifying how to improve their circumstances so that the prospect of having a child is no longer such a terrible thing. In the instances that this is impossible, society should be addressing how it can support children that do not have parents who can adequately care for them.
The question we all should be asking ourselves is, why are there so many women in America that cannot take care of a new child, and how can we help?
Legalized gay marriage has also been beneficial, as it has in fact created new homes for thousands of children.
Decades of studies, and common sense, clearly tell us that children who are born into adverse family situations are far more likely to become criminals (Donahue III & Levitt, 2001). It is a fact that the women who tend to get abortions are the very same as those who would otherwise have had children under adverse circumstances. In other words, women who abort their pregnancies are oftentimes the very same women who would otherwise give birth to a future criminal.
Norma McCorvey, AKA Jane Roe, was herself a 21-year-old uneducated alcoholic drug addict from Dallas, who had already previously given up two children for adoption and was pregnant for the third time. In 1969, McCorvey wanted to have an abortion in Texas where it was illegal, and her plight was taken up by two young and ambitious lawyers who were pro-choice. The lawyers placed McCorvey at the head of a class-action lawsuit against the Dallas County district attorney, Henry Wade, and thus we have Roe v. Wade.
The landmark decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1973, and twenty years later America was experiencing a significant drop in crime. Initially, people believed the change was because increased police presence was highly effective (Eck and Maguire, 2000), however, this proved to be false as the national crime rate continued to drop at rates previously unseen.
We know that legal abortion was the primary cause of the falling crime rate for the following reasons:
- The timing of the decline in the crime rate correlates perfectly with when abortion first began to be legalized.
- There is a strong positive correlation between the situations that most criminals grew up in and the living conditions of women who tend to get abortions.
- All other possible causes were proven by research to not be the primary reason for the dramatic and steady drop in crime (Donahue III & Levitt, 2001).
- Abortion is the only variable that both occurred nationally and demonstrates a positive correlation with the drop in crime.
The harsh reality is that women who previously gave birth to unwanted children because they had no choice were all too often giving birth to future criminals, and once those women were allowed to have abortions, the children who would have turned into criminals were never born.
Pay no attention to the child behind the curtain
The vast majority of criminals grow up in adverse situations where their parents are either absent, addicted to drugs, abusive, living in poverty, or all of the above. Despite this, politicians have tended to focus solely on punishing social deviance, rather than taking measures to actually help children that grow up in these situations.
The privatization of prisons boomed in the 1980s under the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and continued to do so under President Bill Clinton, who cut the federal workforce and further authorized the Justice Department to enter into contracts with private prison corporations (Paláez, 2008).
President Barack Obama was the exception, as his administration took active measures to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals, provide social programs that helped people living in adverse situations, and bring awareness to the number of children living in the foster care system. The Obama administration further supported Planned Parenthood, contraception, and the right to have an abortion.
Regarding criminal justice privatization, the Obama administration took measures contrary to the previous three administrations, which included an executive order that reduced the number of federal private prison contracts (Riley, 2018). In 2016, just prior to Trump taking office, private prison stocks were at their lowest point in eight years, and the Justice Department was close to completing a phase-out plan for any use of private prisons.
Today, American policy is again turning away from addressing the major social issues that lead to unwanted pregnancies.
President Donald Trump seems to be doing everything he can to increase the number of incarcerated people, which includes policies that promote the birth of new future criminals. The two largest private prison companies in America, CoreCivic and Geo Group, both donated heavily to the Trump election campaign, and when he won the election in November of 2016, their stock prices soared, increasing 140% and 98% respectively.
The Trump administration has also taken measures to defund Planned Parenthood, which will prevent poor single women from having abortions or attaining contraception such as IUD’s.
Many who are against these actions by the Trump administration have argued that defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing Roe v. Wade will result in thousands of female deaths during childbirth, however, these arguments tend to fall on deaf ears. The Trump administration, along with the majority of the Republican party, appear to be doing everything they can to ensure that more women have children under adverse situations.
Unwanted children, meet unwanted parents
The good news is that we were recently heading in the right direction, and as a result, the actual number of abortions performed is at an all-time low. Beyond the social programs that help expectant mothers, medical advancements and increased accessibility have made it possible for more women to get IUDs, which has resulted in far fewer unintended and unwanted pregnancies. Legalized gay marriage has also been beneficial, as it has in fact created new homes for thousands of children.
However, all of these steps that we have taken are in danger of being reversed if we don’t quickly change our course back to a progressive stance on policy.
When the Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay marriage, it didn’t just provide the benefits of legal marriage to millions, it allowed for an increased number of same-sex couples to adopt children. To date, about 16,000 children have been adopted by same-sex couples, which is a significant increase from the numbers prior to the ruling.
On any given day, there are around 450,000 children in the foster care system in America, and there are an estimated 2 million same-sex couples that are interested in adopting children. More needs to be done to connect these children with the people who actually want them, and who will provide them with a safe and nurturing environment.
Society should be striving to reach a point where abortion never happens, but because it’s unnecessary, not because it’s illegal.
Republicans, however, are now actively supporting the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of IUD’s for women in adverse situations, and President Trump has further taken active measures to limit the ability for same-sex couples to adopt children.
Studies have demonstrated that women who have abortions are 50% more likely to raise a child in poverty should they give birth, and furthermore, that the unborn children would have been 60% more likely to grow up in a single parent home. Both of these factors are in fact among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future (Donahue III & Levitt, 2001).
This is important to recognize, not as a pro-choice argument, but rather as proof that there is something terribly wrong with a large and important segment of our society.
America needs to address the cause of these situations that put mothers and children into adverse situations in the first place, and figure out how to better care for the children of women that are not able to provide a proper environment for raising a child.
American society should be striving to reach a point where abortion never happens, but because it’s unnecessary, not because it’s illegal. To get to that point, we need to vastly improve the social programs that provide access to education, job training, addiction counseling, psychotherapy and medical treatment during pregnancy.
While these types of initiatives will help, the real heavy lifting occurs after the child is born. The current social system in America is far from ready to take on the responsibility of caring for hundreds of thousands of unwanted children, and so until America grows up, the existing national law resulting from Roe v. Wade should remain unchanged, and organizations such as Planned Parenthood should continue to be supported.
Rather than focusing on our own personal freedoms and religious beliefs, we should be asking ourselves, how can our society create a situation where having a child is actually a positive thing? After all, if a society cannot properly take care of all of its children, then what good is it?