Lower Abortion Rates By Paying Women To Stay Pregnant? I Think Not.

Last week, The New York Times uploaded a “Bloggingheads” discussion between Slate writer William Saletan and Beliefnet’s Steve Waldman, on the topic of reducing abortions. The ideas that arise from the discussion are slightly terrifying, and are therefore worthy of more discussion. The two men start the controversial convo by suggesting that the way to reduce abortion is to increase adoption. But there’s one problem here, and Saletan has managed to figure it out: “It’s very, very hard to get women to make the decision to carry a child all the way to term and then give it up.” No s**t. Waldman then takes over the discussion; he never seems to figure out why a woman might not want to give up her baby, but he postulates that it probably has to do with money. Therefore, financial incentives must be the answer!

Waldman suggests we tell women who are, say, three months pregnant to just “go another six months!” He acknowledges that “they’re probably going to have to drop out of school or a job” and that they’re “making a real economic sacrifice.” So he therefore proposes that we should “pay [them] a thousand dollars.”

Besides the fact that taking advantage of a woman’s economic status to manipulate her into incubating a baby that may or may not be adopted is horrifying, Waldman completely ignores the fact that this is also an emotional issue, not just an economic one. While it does take money and time to bring a baby to term, the reason many women don’t want to give their babies up for adoption after they’ve given birth is because they don’t want to let go of the human they just spent nine months making! The decision to abort a bundle of cells is, for many, more desirable than the alternative — giving up an infant one has grown emotionally and physically attached to. A thousand bucks isn’t going to change that!

Waldman even acknowledges that the financial incentive might not work out too well because, well, “you don’t want to create a financial incentive for making babies.” So if Waldman’s idea is A) ignorant and B) likely to incentivize baby-selling, then why on earth does he suggest it? Somebody please enlighten me!

Saletan at least has some moral aversion to the idea, and said “it feels a little bit icky to me to have a ‘we’ll pay you to carry your baby to term policy.’”

Waldman, on the other hand, really needs to get pregnant, so that after nine months of nurturing a child in his womb and then holding his baby in his very own arms, he will realize that $1,000 would never persuade him to give that infant to anyone else.