Ross Douthat on ‘The Unborn Paradox’

Last month, I blogged about a New York magazine article on the “little-discussed consequences of the Pill”: namely, that after years on birth control to avoid pregnancy, many women were finding it difficult to become pregnant later in life.

In his most recent New York Times column, Ross Douthat says that the tension “between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility” is greater than ever today, thanks to our acceptance of abortion:

[O]n Sunday, The Times Magazine provided a more intimate look at the same issue, in which a midlife parent, the journalist Melanie Thernstrom, chronicled what it took to bring her children into the world: six failed in vitro cycles, an egg donor and two surrogate mothers, and an untold fortune in expenses.

In every era, there’s been a tragic contrast between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility. But this gap used to be bridged by adoption far more frequently than it is today. 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.

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.

“This is the paradox of America’s unborn,” Douthat says. “No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.”

Read the whole thing here.

Margaret Cabaniss

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Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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