In many ways, the anti-abortion movement is one of the most hypocritical and downright diabolical elements of the Republican party platform. It’s been over 40 years since the Supreme Court decided that a woman has the right to choose a safe abortion for her pregnancy, but the Tea Party surge in 2010 and Republican gains at the state level in 2012 have put that in jeopardy. Abortion bans in some form have been passed in 10 states since 2010, and are moving forward in other states at this very moment. Not only that, but abortion clinics have been facing unprecedented regulations in states across the country, designed with the sole purpose of shutting them down–effectively making it harder for any woman seeking a safe abortion to receive one. One case in particular, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi, is facing the possibility of getting shut down after a license revocation hearing scheduled for April 18th. As the last abortion provider in the entire state, being forced to close would make it impossible for any woman to receive a safe abortion in Mississippi. But what exactly is the anti-abortion movement attempting to accomplish? Once we take a further look at the numbers and real life consequences, we see just how dangerous this “movement” is.
Let’s say we did issue an outright ban on abortion–how many women would end up dead or severely injured from seeking an unsafe alternative? How many children would end up in abusive homes, or in an already overburdened foster care system? Are the anti-abortion activists going to guarantee help for the mother if they give birth and keep the child? Early childhood assistance, WIC, food stamps and even free lunch programs at schools have been ridiculed and railed against by many of the same people (and elected officials) who are anti-abortion. But what about the adoption option? What if the mother gives the child up–are they going to guarantee that all of these children will be adopted at birth? Absolutely not. Take away a woman’s right to choose and we’ll have a whole new society of unwanted children being raised in foster care and orphanages, many for their entire childhood.
The statistics back it up. Currently, there are about 1.2 million abortions per year in the United States, according to data and estimates analyzed by the Guttmacher Institute. Let’s think about that number as we take a look at this data collected on FosteringConnections.org. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System tells us there are between 50,000 – 60,000 children adopted from foster care per year in the United States, with another 115,000 or so ready to be adopted but left behind. Of these, over half will not be adopted this year–or next year. For some, the dream of a loving home will never be realized.
So let’s assume for the sake of argument that half of the would-be abortion total were to instead end up in the foster care and orphanage system every year. Somebody please tell me–where is an already overburdened system going to find the resources, necessities and billions of dollars to care for an extra 600,000 newborns every year? And what about the rest of those children who aren’t given up to the system but are instead kept by the birth mother or family? There is no way to know how many of these children would grow up in loving as opposed to abusive homes, which is perhaps the most important and saddest aspect of the entire hypothetical situation.
What we can estimate are ballpark dollar figures on what this would cost the nation, since many of the same anti-abortion fanatics are also staunch fiscal conservatives who claim we can’t keep adding to our debt. If we take a conservative approach and assume only 300,000 of these children end up receiving SNAP and WIC benefits, the total cost per year would be approximately $630 million. This doesn’t take into account the mother, who would also most likely collect SNAP and WIC for herself. It also doesn’t take into account health care costs paid for by the government, as well as any cash benefits the mother may qualify for. When you factor in and estimate everything, the cost is easily well into the billions per year.
Now, I personally am not one to put a price on life–it is my feeling that after a child is born into this world, they should receive basic, quality health care and access to nutritious food regardless of whether or not the parents can afford to pay for it. However, I wanted to put the dollar totals in print for the specific benefit of these “staunch fiscal conservatives” who love to complain about government assistance but also want to ban abortion. I’ve got news for you–you can’t have it both ways. Is every “life” precious enough to protect and provide for? If so, why are you pushing to limit and sometimes deny basic health care and food support to the millions of children already alive in our country today?
What it boils down to is a movement which likes to define itself as “pro life” but is actually about as anti-life as one could possibly be. Part of me could understand their strong feelings if they were consistent. If these people were discussing real solutions instead of stomping their feet in contradiction, it would be much easier to take them seriously. Instead, many of them reject even the simplest way to prevent an abortion–easy access to contraceptives. When they can’t even rally together and agree on that as a start, there’s really no hope that they’ll ever push for truly “pro life” solutions. Knowing that these types of people have already gained power in states across our nation should be a wake-up call to Progressives and sensible moderates alike. It’s time to reclaim the meaning of “pro life”–no longer should it mean pushing for the uninterrupted development of a fetus. To be truly PRO LIFE should mean caring and providing for a CHILD after birth, assuring that they have access to health care, food, a home and most importantly a loving family. If that message resonates with at least one “anti-abortion” advocate, I will have hope that more will understand.
Be sure to check out his archives on Forward Progressives for more of his viewpoints.