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Hullabaloo


Friday, June 28, 2013

 
The second half of the equation: "just give it up for adoption"

by digby

Earlier David commented eloquently on Natasha Chart's great piece about the fatuousness of telling women "just have the baby." I wanted to talk about the second half of that equation --- "and give it up for adoption."

That piece of advice is undoubtedly unimaginable to a new mother like Natasha, madly in love with her little baby and worried sick about his health as they've gone through these crises. But imagine if Natasha were a single mom with no money, no job, no insurance and no partner to help her through this. Imagine further that she is 16 years old and is facing motherhood at a time when she is almost a baby herself. Or imagine she is a 43 year old single mom with four kids already.

These are women who not only have to face the health implications of childbirth but the emotional implications of having a child at the wrong time and feeling they cannot care for it. "Just have the baby and give it up for adoption" sounds like it should be easy in that situation, but imagine actually doing it. Regardless of the circumstances, that woman is likely going to feel a deep attachment to this child she cannot care for. She is going to be giving up a child that will be her future or present childrens' sibling. Is that easy? Really? Just a quick 9 months of gestation, push it out and go on with your life? Of course it isn't.

Now, many women make that choice every day and they live with it, knowing in their hearts they have done the right thing despite the personal pain. Others are haunted by it and wish they would have made a different decision. And, obviously, there are also countless adoptive parents who are grateful that they did what they did. But for many, many women the decision to have an abortion is, by far, the right decision for them. They know they cannot take care of a child or that doing so would alter their lives so substantially that they will never be able to live to their full potential if they do it. And going through pregnancy, childbirth and adoption is something they know would be devastating both physically and emotionally.

Either way, this is not easy. Not by a long shot. And people who blithely throw out this advice to "just have the baby" no matter what the circumstances are people who have no empathy for those who find themselves in such a complicated situation.

Biology makes pregnancy very easy for most women. Nature very strongly wants us to procreate and it has no care for the circumstances under which we do it. Women get pregnant in times of war and famine and regardless of their ability to raise the child. Left up to nature women die frequently in this process and many, many babies die in infancy. If we use the appeal of nature, that's what we are really talking about.

But in this modern civilization in which women have agency, free will and lives that are not dictated by these "natural" events, that is pretty damned barbaric. Because of their role in human procreation, choices women make about reproduction are fundamental if they are to be able to function freely as equal citizens with the ability to fulfill their potential --- and do the right thing by their families present and future.

New moms like Natasha, in good circumstances although tired and hurting, thrilled with her new baby are what we want for every family. And yet some women will give birth into bad circumstances and make the best of it. Others will endure the physical and emotional pain and give their child up for adoption. And many others will decide that doing either of those things is wrong for them and they will have an abortion. Also too, most of those women will have other children and have happy and fulfilling lives as mothers.

Having some stranger take the decision for all of that out of the hands of women is wrong. They are the only ones who can know the exact circumstances that make the pain of childbirth, giving it up for adoption or raising it to adulthood the right decision for them. Anyone throwing out advice saying "just have the baby and give it up for adoption" is essentially saying that women are all cut from exactly the same cloth and have no individual needs or wants or beliefs. It's treating them as if they are not fully human.


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