I thought I’d post on a different topic from what I normally write about. Here is the question–Should we encourage pregnant women who do not want their child to bring the baby to term and give him or her up for adoption? If so, how?
Let’s say that you want to implement President Clinton’s abortion standard (“Safe, legal, and rare.”) How do you make the “rare” part happen without imposing an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose? One option, of course, involves improvements in birth control (whether you want to call that abstinence, contraception, or whatnot) to minimize unwanted pregnancies. Another is to convince those who have an unwanted pregnancy to have the child and raise it (though persuasion rather than coercion). A third option, exemplified by Steve Jobs among others, would be to encourage women to carry the child to term and then give the baby up for adoption.
It strikes me that this last option gets far less attention than it should. If you are pro-life, you would presumably prefer the possibility of adoption over abortion. If you are pro-choice, you would presumably prefer the choose for adoption over a mandate. Thus, one might expect to see policies that would offer incentives to women who elect to give up a child for adoption. For example, the state could bear the costs of the pregnancy (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.). Or the state could pay women a lump-sum “reward” for bearing the burden of pregnancy when they will not raise the child. We don’t, though, see such policies. Why not?
One possibility is that we’d be concerned that not enough adoptions would happen. In effect, would policies such as I’ve described lead to giant “Oliver Twist” style orphanages? Another thought is that these policies would simply cost too much money. Or perhaps people feel like this would be a kind of welfare that rewards irresponsible behavior? I’m genuinely unsure.