Baby Supply and Demand

Ross Douthat, Megan McArdle, and some other conservative writers today are sorrowing that all those selfish women are getting abortions, resulting in fewer babies available for adoption.

A number of non-troglodyte bloggers already have agreed with Tbogg, who wrote,

… there is no more repellent reason for opposing abortion than the notion that poor women who choose to not bring a baby to term are somehow obligated to do so because it is a sellers market. That is some seriously fucked up shit.

Yes. But if people want to complain about the dearth of healthy American-born babies available for adoption, don’t complain about abortion. Complain that these days unmarried women who give birth are far less likely to put the baby up for adoption than was true years ago.

Douthat even points this out in his column before he goes back to whining about abortion:

Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.

Yes. However, Douthat continues,

Some of this shift reflects the growing acceptance of single parenting. But some of it reflects the impact of Roe v. Wade. Since 1973, countless lives that might have been welcomed into families like Thernstrom’s — which looked into adoption, and gave it up as hopeless — have been cut short in utero instead.

The Fetus People refuse to believe this, but social historians and statisticians who study abortion in American think the rate of abortion in America today could be about what it was before Roe v. Wade. Since there were no records kept for illegal abortions there is no way to know for sure, but it is well documented that the rate of abortion in countries around the world is not impacted by criminalizing abortion. There is no reason why the U.S. would be an exception.

So, if alleged libertarian McArdle got her second-dearest wish (the first would be, I believe, an exemption from paying taxes) and American women lost access to legal abortion, it would likely make no difference in the supply of health white babies. If the trends in other nations are any guide, in very little time an underground and notoriously unsafe abortion industry would be thriving, the rate of abortion would remain about what it is now, and all but 1 percent of unmarried woman who give birth will still keep their babies. Because in the absence of very strong social and family pressure to do otherwise, mothers will keep their babies. This is human nature. It’s also mammal nature and bird nature.

It is very sad that some people who want children are infertile. It’s very sad that some people who want health care can’t get insurance. It’s very sad that some people who want to earn a living can’t get work that pays a living wage. It’s very sad that families lose their homes. It’s very sad that there are children who don’t get enough to eat. I’m personally sad that lamebrains like Douthat and McArdle actually make livings as pundits. The world is full of injustice.

Cope, people.