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.
This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.
The great gulf between those who desire children and cannot have them biologically and those who conceive children but do not want them may vary over time and place. But what marks a civilization, in my view, is how we handle this chasm. Do we simply throw the unwanted away? Do we make every effort to find them homes? How do we practically facilitate this?
If the pro-life movement dedicated its every moment not to criminalizing abortion but to expanding adoption opportunities, it would win many more converts.
(Photo: A fetus in its 19th week of gestation is displayed at the opening of the new exhibition 'Bodyworlds: The Mirror of Time' at the O2 bubble in London, on October 23, 2008. The exhibition focuses on the life cycle and features over 200 plastinates. The plastination process was invented by Dr von Hagens in the 1970's and has since been used in Bodyworks exhibitions around the world. By Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.)