Abortion. The word evokes many strong emotions. For some people the word means women’s right to choose their futures, for others, the word means murder. Some people refer to it as some kind of “American Holocaust,” as the author of the opinion piece “American Infanticide: The Final Solution 2.0” did in both the title and in the piece itself.
Right from the start, it’s important to say that comparing abortion in America to the Holocaust is, at best, ethically grey. Comparing abortion to the suffering of millions of people, including the survivors who are still living today, diminishes their suffering.
To suggest that anyone can find “comfort” in the Holocaust because it ended 70 years ago suggests that there is a comfort to be found in the horror of the Holocaust. If someone feels that abortion is an atrocity, an act of genocide, then it’s worse to “rank” tragedies, to suggest that one horrible event is more horrible than another.
Most opponents of abortion, like the author, suggest that women choose abortion for the sake of convenience. But in a 2004 study by the Guttmacher Institute, shows the complexity of why women choose abortion.
While 74 percent of the respondents to the survey said that having a child would “dramatically change [their] life,” 73 percent also said that they could not afford the cost of having a child. Of the respondents, 48 percent said that they were avoiding single motherhood, or were having problems in their relationships that they were avoiding bringing a child into. A third said that they were not ready to have a child.
Finally, 13 percent had an abortion due to concerns about the health of the child, and 12 percent because they were concerned about their own health. Concerns about education and employment were also a common thread in the study.
Those statistics go to show that the choice to have an abortion goes much deeper than convenience. “But adoption is an option,” so many people say. However, the numbers tell a sobering story and reveal a reason that women might not want to give up a child for adoption.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 437,000 children were in the foster care system in 2016. During the 2016 fiscal year, over 273,000 children entered the foster care system, and around 250,000 exited the system. The number of children in foster care has been steadily rising; according to the report, in 2012 there were almost 397,000 children in foster care, and the number has gone up every fiscal year.
Can one blame a woman for not wanting to have a child only to give it up to a system in which they have no guarantee of finding a home, a system that some children remain in for years? The median amount of time that children remain in foster care is two years, but the older a child gets, the lower their chances are of being adopted.
It’s easy to look on from the outside and say what women “should” do, especially when you’re not a woman who might be faced with that choice. To claim that the choice is easy, that it’s simply for the sake of convenience, ignores the complex reasons that might cause a woman to make that painful choice.
You want women to bring a child into the world that they may not be able to provide for? Make access to healthcare, paid maternity leave and childcare more affordable.
Start fostering children and encouraging people to adopt, rather than telling women to give up their child to a system that seems cold and unforgiving. And if you’re a man who thinks he knows what is best for women, maybe it’s time to sit down, shut up, listen and learn.