Marriage & Adoption: Answers for Unwed Mothers
WASHINGTON - For the first time in 30 years, 50,000 who braved bitter cold to protest
the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that legalized abortion - were exultant.
With good reason. Pro-life activists knew that their support for U.S. Senatorial candidates
helped win a number of races. Republicans now run the Senate, which is more likely to ban what
President Bush calls the "abhorrent procedure of partial birth abortion."
President Bush, whom pro-lifers helped elect, praised them for being "called to value and
protect the lives of innocent children waiting to be born." He pledged to sign a partial birth
abortion ban. President Clinton vetoed it twice.
"This has been a long time coming. Hopefully we'll reverse Roe v. Wade," said Jeanne
Nollen, 52, who was carrying an 18 inch statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Legislatively, that is unlikely. At least 53 of 100 Senators still support Roe v. Wade. Nor
is it likely in the near term on the Supreme Court, where Justices support abortion rights by a 6-3
margin. Two pro-choice Justices would have to be replaced.
What can be done to reduce the number of abortions? First, the good news is that there
were 300,000 fewer abortions in 2000 than the 1.6 million of 1990. The abortion rate is now
below that of 1974, the first year after the Supreme Court decision.
However, a third of all women have had at least one abortion. This is stunning.
One of three American women have killed a life within them. Those women are 30-100
percent more likely to have breast cancer. Subsequent children are twice as likely to be born
prematurely and to die, reports Dr. John Thorp of the University of North Carolina. After an
abortion women are three times more likely to commit suicide. No wonder 50 women stood at the
Supreme Court Wednesday with signs saying "I Regret My Abortion."
One answer is to pass state laws that make abortion less accessible. Some 33 states now
require that girls under age 18 notify their parents if they want an abortion or ask for their
consent. Result: teen abortions plunged 31 to 55 percent more in those states than in states
without such laws, according to Denise Burke of Americans United for Life.
If abortion is not as available as birth control, more women remain chaste.
Another 28 states require some level of informed consent. The result in Mississippi has
been a drop of abortions from 8,600 in 1991 to 3,700 in 2000, a 59 percent plunge!
The best form of informed consent to allow women to see the baby within them with
ultrasound. "Approximately 80 percent of women who receive ultrasound who are abortion-minded, have a change of heart," says Jenny Dixon of Care Net, which works with 665 crisis
pregnancy counseling centers, 100 of which have the $20,000 imaging machine.
However, if the woman gives birth, what are the best possible options for that child?
The 1.3 million children born out of wedlock are three times as likely as those in intact
homes to repeat a grade or to become pregnant out of wedlock, six times as likely to be in
poverty and 22 times more apt to be incarcerated.
One better option is adoption. An adopted child is actually more likely to do well in
school and go to college than those from intact homes. However, only 1 percent of babies of
unwed mothers are relinquished for adoption. The National Council for Adoption is training
those counseling women considering abortion with encouraging initial results.
However, the best option for older pregnant women is to marry the father. Crisis
pregnancy counseling centers often neglect the issue. Heartbeat International, however, has
begun to distribute material for counselors on the benefits of marriage to its 800 centers. A
woman can be asked, "Did you know that only 12 percent of children in married homes ever get
on welfare but 71 percent of never-married mothers will do so?"
"Or that married women are healthier, happier and live longer?"
This is helpful, but not enough. I urge pregnancy counselors to be trained to administer a
premarital inventory to the mother and the father of the child they conceived, and to talk through
the relational issues it surfaces. They can also be trained to teach skills of communication and
My wife and I have trained more than 1000 Mentor Couples to offer this service. One
study found that while 18 percent of premarital couples did not marry, only 3 percent divorced in
The best options for unwed mothers are adoption or marriage.