Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Economic Conditions Increase Abortion Rates

In these difficult economic times, adding another child to your family can seem overwhelming. And apparently, the economic recession is increasing the number of abortions and sterilizations. Planned Parenthood of Illinois performed a record number of abortions in January, and clinics in the St. Louis area reported a 7% increase in the number of abortions. According to this associated press piece, the number of married women and women who already have children seeking abortions are on the rise.

"This was a desired pregnancy — she'd been getting prenatal care — but they re-evaluated expenses and decided not to continue," said Dr. Pratima Gupta. "When I was doing the options counseling, she interrupted me halfway through, crying, and said, `Dr. Gupta, I just walked here for an hour. I'm sure of my decision.'"

..Dr. J. Stephen Jones, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said he has seen a surge of men seeking vasectomies, with his monthly caseload rising from about 45 to more than 70 since November. He said most of the men were married, had kids, decided they couldn't afford more and opted to get a vasectomy while they still had job-related health insurance. "Several articulated very forcefully that the economy was the motive," Jones said.

...Dr. Anne Davis of New York City, medical director of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, said one of her married patients recently became pregnant with what would have been her third child. Because the husband was self-employed, the couple could afford only a low-cost family health policy without maternity benefits, Davis said. They estimated the birth would cost at least $30,000 and reluctantly opted for abortion.

What strikes me most about this article is that there is no mention of "other choices" available when finances are tight and a baby seems like an overwhelming financial responsibility. Abortion is presented as a sad, but absolutely necessary choice for couples in very difficult financial straights. The article even mentions the serious doubts of one married woman who chooses not to get an abortion after seeing a sonogram at the clinic.

I'm sure the widespread societal acceptance and financial assistance available for abortion services helps perpetuate these attitudes. And this brings to mind a couple at my parish who recently adopted two children from Poland. Poland, a nation with strong Catholic roots, has very strict abortion regulations, making it very difficult to have an abortion.

This couple from my Parish adopted their first child from Poland and were told he was the youngest of 7 children, and his parents lived in such dire poverty that they just couldn't afford to raise him. His birth parents loved him and wanted him to have a better life, so they placed their son in a loving home, with wonderful parents, parents who had been waiting a long time to raise a child. Shortly after their arrival home, the adoption agency informed them that the birth parents were expecting another baby, and they were asked if they would be willing to raise the new baby as well. They were overjoyed, and returned to Poland a year later to adopt their son's baby sister.

I'm sure the Polish birth parents of these children suffered terribly in their very hard decision to allow someone else to raise their children. They knew the joys and struggles of parenthood, and they knew their current circumstances were not conducive to raising another child. But instead of choosing to end the life of their children, they gave them life--and a life of love. It wasn't a natural choice, as in the right order of things no parent would have to part from their child because of financial difficulties, but it was a choice made in love. The adoptive parents informed me that their adoption story wasn't that unique. This happens often in Poland. I have to believe the strict abortion laws in Poland were partly responsible for the very life of their two beautiful children.

Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood is using the current economic crisis, and the stories of the couples in the article, to increase their funding base.

If there is an upside to the current sobering trends, say family-planning advocates, it may be that federal and state policymakers will boost public funding of contraception. "We're seeing a receptivity among our legislators to hear about prevention policies," said Lori Lamerand, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan. "Folks who wouldn't have opened the doors to a Planned Parenthood representative are now willing to talk to us."

And so now, more than ever, it is important to support pro-life and specifically adoption ministries. Let us not forget that even in these difficult economic times, there are plenty of couples out there praying and waiting for a baby. And if a woman finds herself in a dire financial situation, I hope and pray she will put her baby into the loving arms of a couple like this, rather than into the knife of an abortion doctor.


Joanne said...

Thanks for this post, I will pray for these women and babies too. What a shame.

Catherine said...

I'm surprised at the figure given for the cost of a birth ($30,000)! This is extraordinary, unless a c-section was required for this woman's health. Not everyone is comfortable with midwifery, but I had a home birth for $3200, which included all pre- and post-natal care.

JesusThroughMary said...

Why is adoption never considered by most people, on either end? Either "I could never give my child away to a stranger." (So I'd rather kill him.) Or "I really want a child that's mine." (So I'll spend thousands of dollars on - often immoral - fertility treatments to create my own when those children over there languish in orphanages.) What can we do to make adoption more acceptable and more affordable?

JesusThroughMary said...

A blessed feast of the Annunciation to all of you, by the way.

Right Said Red said...

Yes Catherine, I was shocked at that price as well. Maybe she as planning a c-section in NYC? I had my last baby at a birth center, and the cost was $5000. I don't know the going rate these days for a c-section in the inner city? Even so, in many cases if you make an adoption plan for your baby, all costs are covered. In addition, if you don't have insurance, most hospitals will take partial payment, sometimes almost 1/2 the price to get some payment.

JesusThroughMary said...

We got "billed" $19,000 for a C-section in Philly, so it's not unthinkable.

sophie said...

$26,000 for my emergency (general anes.) c-section almost 6 years ago in PA. Praise God for good health insurance (at least it was THEN, LOL!)

I very much appreciated this post, it is a very good reminder to us to keep our support of pregnancy care centers whose donations may be waning in tough economy.

The quotes that you had about PP is so upsetting.

texasmommy said...

I don't think the $30K number is unreasonable, even for a normal birth. Our routine hospital birth came close to that. Our health care system is very poor and a lot of the burden falls on those who are poor and uninsured. I think this is a reminder that we need to push for health care reforms.

JesusThroughMary said...

Well, a lot of the burden falls on employers who are forced to provide group health insurance to everyone if they want to insure anyone. And on healthy people who are forced to pay outrageous premiums to cover people who are unhealthy, often due to their own actions, because the insurance company can't "discriminate" based on risk like every other insurer does.

All the more reason to reform the health care system.

allyouwhohope said...

Thanks for thinking of us :)

I started praying outside of an abortion clinic last fall and was shocked by how many women, when in conversations with the sidewalk counselors, wouldn't even consider adoption as an option. They were outraged by the thought, while at the same time they were walking in to a facility where someone was going to actually end their baby's life. That makes me love and respect so much more the birthmothers who are strong enough and selfless enough to choose adoption.

Megan said...

What incredibly sad statistics. I have never understood why adoption is never considered as an option. Our state certainly seems to chose either abortion or raising the child themselves. Our Catholic Social Services places so few babies each year it can be a very long wait. One reason we have adopted internationally, but then expenses keep one from having a large family. I am glad to have found your blog. God bless you all~

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting point in favour of universal health care or a single-payor system of health care.

There would still be abortions, but at least the cost of prenatal care and delivery wouldn't be an issue. I think that you could make a good arguement in favour of UHC on pro-life grounds.

JesusThroughMary said...

Anonymous -

I think you couldn't be more wrong.

ChloƩ said...

In general there is very little said about the real options that a mother has. I had an abortion a year and half ago. I regret it with every breath I take.

My situation was very different than the married women in the article, but I can tell you from personal experience that nobody counsels you about how to afford prenatal care, or how to afford maternity costs, or helps you find adoption agencies or explains to you how your financial aid/housing status will change (if you are a college student, for example).

It wasn't until a month or so later that I was able to find any information at all. I never did find anyone in my community who would have stood by me if I had 'chosen' to keep the child.

I wonder if married mothers don't consider adoption because of shame. If you have an abortion early enough, no one has to know that you were ever pregnant. If you carry a child to term and then give it over for adoption, every one in your community will know that you were pregnant but couldn't provide for your child. There is a stigma there.

In general, I think that as much as Roe v. Wade needs to be overturned, more than anything we really need to find a way of eliminating stigma, creating communities where motherhood is cherished and families are priorities. It just seems to me that most people see their children as burdens, and anyone who would choose to carry a child under less than ideal circumstances is a fool. If we could vocally create a more supportive environment, maybe things would change.

Okay, I just rambled for a while. This is a really wonderful blog. Great work!!

Right Said Red said...

Thank you Chloe for your perspective. It isn't much of a choice when you are not presented with other options. Unfortunately, legalized abortion leaves many health care providers only pushing for one option--abortion--and giving women very little information on carrying to term, adoption, etc.

Thank you for your perspective and God Bless you for testifying to the regret you have from your abortion.