One can hope that journalist Bonnie Erb is just out to get attention. But given her recent statements in U.S. News and World Report, one has to take her seriously. She argues that in some cases abortion is not a “sad alternative” (to quote some moderate pro-choicers), but in fact the moral thing to do. Erb recounts a March 25 AP news report of a woman who sought to have a child with her boyfriend, but later decided to abort the unborn child:
The pregnant woman showed up at the medical centre in flip-flops and in tears, after walking there to save bus fare.
Her boyfriend had lost his job, she told her doctor in Oakland, Calif., and now – fearing harder times for her family – she wanted to abort what would have been her fourth child.
“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 counselling, she interrupted me halfway through, crying, and said, ‘Dr. Gupta, I just walked here for an hour. I’m sure of my decision.'”
Erb’s response? The woman did the right thing, given the economic circumstances.
Yes, it’s sad that this unwed, pregnant mother of three had no money for bus fare. It’s terrible that her boyfriend lost his job. It is heart-wrenching that she fell to tears in the doctor’s office. But in the long run, can we not agree that an unwed couple’s decision not to bring a fourth child into the world when they are having trouble feeding themselves and three children is no tragedy? It’s actually a fact-based, rational decision that in the end benefits the three children they already have and society as well.
Feeding and raising children is expensive. Tuition may be free at public schools but there are still books, transportation, food, clothes, medical care and activities that add up—way up. One may assume this family of five is struggling just to maintain its basics: housing and food. Add one more child and those costs rise as income drops. It’s no tragedy: it’s a good decision. The decision benefits society in two ways. It allows the couple to focus more time, energy and resources on their three children, giving each child a better life and a better chance of growing up to contribute to society. It also lessens the chance the family will have to rely on scarce public resources (food stamps, TANF) to raise their children.
Is adoption even considered by Ms. Erb? Has it not occurred to her that thousands of couples would love to have adopted such a child, or that hundreds of churches (just in California) would have gladly helped with the finances needed to complete the pregnancy and locate a worthy adoptive couple? But this is the logical extension of those who do not believe the most defenseless humans have intrinsic value. Today, the unborn fight for survival. Who knows what other class of humans it will be tomorrow.
HT: Denny Burk