Monday, January 3, 2011

That’s Why It’s Called “Choice”

Ross Douthat is trying to sound all sympathetic about the terrible decision some people have to make about whether or not to have an abortion. Oh, if there was only some other way….

In every era, there’s been a tragic contrast between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility. But this gap used to be bridged by adoption far more frequently than it is today. Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.

Some of this shift reflects the growing acceptance of single parenting. But some of it reflects the impact of Roe v. Wade. Since 1973, countless lives that might have been welcomed into families like Thernstrom’s — which looked into adoption, and gave it up as hopeless — have been cut short in utero instead.

But no matter how he tries to soften it up, he’s still standing there as a privileged white man with either enough money or enough gall — often interchangeable — to tell other people, usually those who are not white and not privileged, what to do with their bodies and what choices to make.

And if he and his family are so all-fired enthusiastic about adoption, then he can choose to go out there and shorten the waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.