The economics of adoption

An article came out earlier this week by Megan McArdle titled Abortion, Adoption, Supply and Demand that examined the link between adoption and abortion rates.  The author was arguing a claim made by a fellow writer, Andrew Sullivan, that promoting infant adoption is a feasible way to lower the abortion rate.  Sullivan wrote, “If the pro-life movement dedicated its every moment not to criminalizing abortion but to expanding adoption opportunities, it would win many more converts.”

McArdle responds, “I find it far-fetched that women are having abortions because no one is willing to help them give the baby up for adoption–there are lots of people and agencies that will not only help them, but pay a substantial portion of their expenses until they deliver.  They’re having abortions because pregnancy is physically uncomfortable, and there’s still a social stigma on women who carry a baby to term in order to give it away.”

Just a few months ago, the Center for American Progress released a report that seemingly aligns with McArdle’s viewpoint.  The report is titled The Adoption Option: Adoption Won’t Reduce Abortion but It Will Expand Women’s Choices.  In trying to educate readers about the abortion landscape, the report shared some statistics:

  • there are 6 million pregnancies in the U.S each year, almost half are unintended
  • 4 in 10 of all unintended pregnancies will end in abortion, roughly 1.2 million each year
  • 6 out of every 10 women who have abortions are already mothers
  • a mere 1% of all never-married women place their children for adoption

The report goes on to examine how prior to Roe v. Wade in 1973, the adoption rate was as high as 19.2% for white women, but fell to only 3.2% just fifteen years later.  The Guttmacher Institute writes that the decline in the adoption rate is affected by the societal shift in accepting single mothers, and that the abortion rate also fell during the same period time.  Because of this, the Institute points out that promoting adoption is not an effective strategy for reducing the abortion rate.

A few of the policy recommendations the report includes is that more research is required to best serve the needs of women considering adoption, along with greater awareness about the modern adoption system, and improved post-adoption services.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

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