Adoption doesn’t mean abortion isn’t necessary, even though some Supreme Court justices think so

I was born on January 11, 1973, 11 days before Roe v. Wade decriminalizes abortion in the United States. As an adopted and politically conscious teenager, this was a frightening fact for me. Phew, I have always thought. I did it. Of course, that was also insignificant, as I was born, adopted, and raised in New York City, where abortion up to week 24 of pregnancy was legalized in 1970, long before I was conceived. .

Adoption is not straightforward on any level, and suggesting that it can replace abortion reinforces the misconception that it is.

Unwanted pregnant women have always been able to give up their children for adoption, just like my mother did. Yet this is not the choice that every woman wanted to make, which is why legal abortion is a necessary option as well. I know this because I have experienced all aspects of this problem as an adoptee and as a woman who decided to have an abortion. So I was outraged when Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett this month resurrected the duck that adoption removes the need for abortion.

In argument on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenges the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning 15-week abortions, Barrett referred to the state’s shelter laws, which protect parents who anonymously abandon newborns from prosecution. in designated places like hospitals. Barrett said Roe and other legal precedent affirming the right to abortion “underscore the burden of parenthood.” So, she asked, “why don’t the shelter laws deal with this problem?” “

Barrett didn’t seem to notice the irony of his comment implying that women still don’t need the option of an abortion. She is an adoptive mother of two and a biological mother of five more – so she has exercised her choice to bring new children into her family in two ways, although she seems to want to deny the choice to biological mothers who are not in. able to carry a baby to term. And to suggest that a woman be forced to pursue an unwanted pregnancy is to ignore that giving up a baby for adoption and choosing to adopt a child are not decisions to be taken lightly. They bear their own hardships and even trauma, including for the child concerned, and each individual should be able to decide whether they want to take on this.

Getting adopted meant I didn’t have good answers when people asked me where my real parents were and when they came to pick me up. My birth mother’s decision to abandon me was nothing more than a mantra that kept coming back to me: She was a teenager, she couldn’t keep you, she was a teenager, she couldn’t keep you.

The worst question I was ever asked was supposed to be rhetorical: Wasn’t I glad I didn’t have an abortion? I couldn’t help but think of the answer, however. Was I happy? Well, it depended. At 15, for example, I wasn’t sure. Most of my life until then, I had been angry at being left behind and angry at being caught, even though I couldn’t express it. My parents didn’t understand why I was so miserable. They thought I was ungrateful and difficult. After all, I had everything I needed.

No one yet knew the trauma of adoption. But I felt it.

I also came to know the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy, which I experienced at 23. I can turn the situation around in two ways: I was single and unemployed. It’s true. It is also true that I was engaged to a Parisian and I was a graduate student at Harvard.

Either way, I had used birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy as I knew none of us were ready to have children and I wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to term. then abandon it. But because I was born with kidney disease and had chronic UTIs, I removed my diaphragm early one night because it hurt. Burning. Sting.

How did you let this happen? hissed the Parisian on the phone when I broke the news to him.

How does I? I had known when I pulled it out that I was trying my luck, but it hurt so much I didn’t care. I do not care. For him, it was my fault. I let it happen.

Without support, it was a painful but easy decision. I was raised in New York City by Democratic and pro-choice parents. I knew I was not prepared for single parenthood.

I went to my date without the Parisian. He stayed in France. He did not offer any money. He didn’t comfort me. And I buried it so deep that I forgot it for years.

At the time, however, I was hearing in my head: Are you not happy that you did not have an abortion?

A friend suggested point blank that I continue with the pregnancy. Maybe you should have it and give it up, she said. Make a family for someone else.

No, just no. I couldn’t give birth and then give my baby.

Why not? She did this for you.

Did she do that for me? I would not know how to say it. I always wondered why my birth mother decided not to have an abortion. Was it dangerous? Was she afraid to talk to her mother?

By the time I found my birth mother three years later, thanks to the New York State adoption registry, I had long since broken with the Parisian. When I met her, I asked her why she chose adoption for me.

I didn’t choose anything. His eyes were lowered. I wanted to keep you. It was her parents who forced her to abandon me.

Barrett’s suggestion that women who inadvertently get pregnant can just carry their babies to term and then give them up easily because they are protected by shelter laws forget that some women and girls who want to keep their children have to to abandon them either by their families or by socio-economic or other circumstances, causing them irreparable suffering and loss. Adoption is not straightforward on any level, and suggesting that it can replace abortion reinforces the misconception that it is.

I love my life now, so of course my current answer is I’m glad I didn’t have an abortion. But I wish my mother was allowed to make her own decision, even though that decision resulted in an abortion or better use of birth control, so I was never conceived in the first place. I wish for a world where women and girls, their bodies, their babies and their choices are not left in the courts to be beaten like badminton birds. I wish for a world where no woman has to give up a baby against her will. I would have liked my mother to feel empowered, not ashamed.

Now, I teach my daughters what I would have liked to have been taught: their bodies, their rules.

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