Even though we are in the midst of the Christmas and Hanukkah season, Americans must keep their eyes on the ball in Washington: The Senate is passing the test votes of the new health care reform bill that will affect all Americans. And if you care at all about such things one way or another, then you cannot get past one issue in the bill: abortion.
Even though we are in the midst of the Christmas and Hanukkah season, Americans must keep their eyes on the ball in Washington: The Senate is passing the test votes of the new health care reform bill that will affect all Americans. And if you care at all about such things one way or another, then you cannot get past one issue in the bill: abortion. Rarely spoken of in its technical realities – a forming baby surgically removed from its mother, resulting in his or her physical death – and most often spoken of in flowery but insubstantial rhetoric – “reproductive freedom” being the operative phrase - abortion is a flash point with the new health care bill.
Both pro-life and pro-choice groups are unhappy with the current language in the Senate bill. Pro-life groups worry that in essence through this new bill, the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions through monies allocated to Health and Human Services each year, will be watered down on the way to forgotten all together. The pro-choice side is concerned that the language that protects and funds abortion with federal dollars – and crashes through the last barrier of questioning abortions as barely more than a medical procedure - is not strong enough. In the current language of the bill, there is one little line that I remain focused on: increased tax credits for adoption. Is this tiny, somewhat standard and even humdrum line in the new health care bill something that we as a nation could possibly build on?
Suspend your disbelief for a moment, and come along with me. In the healthy society I would propose, our prototype of a young single woman is supported through a pregnancy by federally funded agencies set up solely for this purpose – since we all want a decrease in abortions – correct? Isn’t that what our lawmakers have said? The new adoptive family for the child she will bear is then given a generous tax credit – already written into the new Senate bill, so we must value the idea of adoption already, right? – to help them on their end of this process of life. Most importantly, in the third prong of this “adoption mainstreaming,” the young pregnant woman who will lovingly relinquish the child to a yearning, capable, more-than-ready family is viewed in society as caring and noble – yes, that outdated word noble - and a member of the community to be valued, cared for and supported. (Are you listening, those out there who are judgmental religious folk of all faiths? You would have to change, too, and I mean in a HUGE way.)
Unacceptable in it’s entirety, you may say. We would have hordes of women – a lot of them teens – walking around pregnant. Yes, but right now we have hordes of women walking into abortion clinics and aborting their babies. The after-effects of this will follow the young woman forever, and she cannot know this when she walks through that door. A compassionate country sheds light on the emotional and physical health of its women as well as its babies. It’s not just about the babies. Many women never get over an abortion; it’s just that simple. As enlightened and as “free” as we try to be, at our core we are human. And humans grieve the loss of what could have been, even if it is years later.
Why not consider bulking up the economic, societal and health benefits of adoption? Let’s tighten up laws protecting adoptive families and create real programs supporting birth mother during pregnancy and in the year that follows as she gets her life back together. Easy? No. The right thing to do? Yes.
Abortion became a $1 billion dollar business in 2008. One. Billion. Dollar. Business. The hue and cry over my idea and ideas like it will be more about this, and less about reproductive freedom. Freedom? What freedom? The freedom of forever pining for a child that has been aborted? Isn’t that a whole different, deeper grief from the loss of a baby through adoption? One loss is irrevocable. The freedom of regret? The freedom of a society where one segment is spending millions in unsuccessful fertility treatments while another segment is spending a combined billion dollars to terminate children? The freedom of partial-birth abortion, which the president supports? This dark, costly “freedom” we can live without.
A society that turns on its children cannot survive; try to name one that has. Cloak yourself in an attitude of suspended disbelief and a willingness to work hard, and sit back and think a moment about the wonderful possibilities of “what if…”
Imagine a country where we can celebrate babies who started out unwanted, and the women who bear them; married or not, educated or not, ready or not. (How we feel at any given time is not always how things actually are; just ask any woman who looks back in joy years after deciding against abortion.) Let us be the country we dream of being through the light of possibility, not the darkness of abortion.
I know, I know. Too many problems with mainstream, widespread adoption of this sort, you may say. Legislative problems, familial problems, too many societal attitudes to be worked out. You are absolutely right; a cakewalk it’s not. But I ask you: are the problems of widespread adoption in this country more problematic than federalizing a billion-dollar industry that ends the lives of babies at every stage? Think about it. If we are going to toil, will we toil for darkness, or for light?
You can connect with Deirdre at www.exhaustedrapunzel.com.