Mona Charen’s words should be read and be a rallying cry:
It would be far healthier for our society if citizens were asked to debate and decide these matters for themselves, in their own states, without the help of nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. These are exactly the sort of issues that free people must grapple with if they want to be considered self-governing. Nearly every poll on abortion has found that most Americans favor legal abortion in the first 12 weeks and oppose it (to varying degrees) thereafter. Polls asking whether Americans support Roe are useless because few know what it says.
If Americans are somewhere in the mushy middle, the two political parties have arrayed themselves at the extremes.
The past five years have demonstrated the dangers of excessive polarization. We are tearing each other apart over mask mandates, for God’s sake; how well-equipped are we to debate and discuss an issue that is even more emotionally volatile? Progressives are certain that conservatives don’t actually care about life, but only want to limit women’s options. Conservatives are convinced that progressives are heartless hypocrites, ready to ignore the humanity of unborn babies even as they fret about the climate or immigrant children at the border. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe and Casey, or limits their scope, the ball will be back in the citizens’ court.
I’m not optimistic that compromise or mutual understanding is possible on this issue, but let me offer some personal recollections that may help. My husband and I, as adoptive parents, were active in adoption charities and advocacy for many years. Adoption brings together people from both sides of the abortion divide. We met Hillary Clinton and Mary McGrory, a fierce liberal columnist who was on Nixon’s enemies list, at adoption events, as well as former Republican congressman and House majority whip Tom DeLay. He and his wife had raised three foster children.
I was honored to help Erica Pelman launch In Shifra’s Arms, a Jewish charity dedicated to helping women who experience crisis pregnancies. ISA was clear from the outset that its goal was to help women, not to lobby about changing laws. There were pro-choice and pro-life women on the board, united in the desire to let women know that they were not alone. ISA provides counseling, cash assistance, material support, and referrals to other resources including government programs, religious institutions, and adoption agencies. The assistance is provided throughout the pregnancy and for the first year of the baby’s life.
An Alan B. Guttmacher survey on women’s reasons for having abortions noted that more than one third of the women in the study had considered placing their children for adoption but rejected it because they believed it was “morally unconscionable” to give a child away. It seems highly doubtful that the seven million Americans who are adopted would agree. An estimated 1 to 2 million couples are waiting to adopt children. In 2018, there were about 619,000 abortions.
Most people are shocked to learn that there’s even a registry for couples waiting to adopt Down Syndrome babies.
Adoption is a loving alternative to abortion. Perhaps we can begin to listen to and hear each other if we start there.