Because I come from people who believe that a righteous grudge is a resource to be cherished, I cannot resist buttressing my opposition to Ross Douthat’s attempt to justify the commodification of human infants with the words of my blogospheric betters. Also, they make important points that should not be overlooked, because even people who will never appear in the NYTimes ‘Style’ section are capable of suffering quite as much as those elite citizens for whom fungible healthy newborns are “so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired” as to touch Douthat’s tender sensibilities.
Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon explains “Why being anti-choice is misogynist, period“:
… There’s a lot of human rights violations that Douthat glossed over in his chillingly inhumane euphemistic phrasing “this gap used to be bridged by adoption”. By “bridged by adoption”, what he means is young white women (and some young black women, though there was less demand for their babies, and subsequently less forcing them into maternity homes) who turned up pregnant were forced to give birth to babies and forced into maternity homes where they were restrained and often subject to torturous behavior so they couldn’t resist when their babies were snatched from them against their wills. He’s right that Roe v. Wade had a lot to do with turning this around, and it’s not just because women had an option to abort instead. It’s also because once it was enshrined in law that even pregnant women have rights, it became harder to justify the existence of maternity homes and coercing women to give up babies…
… [T]he fact that, as Douthat notes, the percentage of babies born that are given up for adoption immediately went into freefall after coercion stopped means that the coercion really was pretty fucking coercive. That he glibly offers to deprive unmarried women of their human rights in order to sop up the pain of infertility of women he deems more worthy because they did a better job at taming their sexuality with the approved channels of marriage is misogyny, pure and simple. And it’s the misogyny that lies underneath all anti-choice arguments, which forever go back to coercion.
And Ken Houghton at Angry Bear discusses “The Economics of History, Douthat-Style“:
… [I]f I’m reading Douthat’s prose correctly, there’s a far greater structural problem. Concentrating only on “white” babies— that is, conceding that Douthat is considering a bare majority, if that, of the country—we see that the system he fondly remembers produced a 20% surplus of children born out of wedlock for whom the state or its equivalents needed to care.
Even ignoring the conditions under which many of those births occurred, that basically means that for one in every five children born out of wedlock, no more than four were successfully adopted…. [T]he best-case scenario is that, for each one of us who was adopted, there was a minimum of 1/4 of a person who wasn’t—and probably closer to a 1:1 ratio…
From an economic analysis, the pre-1973 situation was one of significant excess supply, and the current 1% adoption rate is beneficial to the chances of a potential adoptee being adopted, while the “would-be adoptive parents [who] face a waiting list” have both an abundant opportunity to provide a relatively better lifestyle for children born in developing economies and to take interim steps such as fostering to ensure that they really want to change their lifestyle enough to raise children.
No economist in his right mind would consider the pre-1973 environment romanced by Douthat to be more optimal than the current one, unless he really loves human suffering and wasting human capital.