Mike Pence Saying Adoption Is the Answer to Abortion Shows He Knows Nothing About Either One

Arguably the best moment of the vice presidential debate came when the candidates talked about their positions on abortion. Pence, a staunch defender of the "sanctity of life," said the answer to abortion is more adoption. I'm an adoptive mother and Mike Pence does not speak for me. He only shows how little respect he has for all families, including mine.


I'm a former foster parent and adoptive mother, so when Pence started to talk about the sad families who couldn't have babies of their own, but desperately wanted them, he was talking about me. He wants to "make adoption easier," Pence said. He thinks that forcing women to have babies and then give them away is somehow a more moral way to honor "life."

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Here are just some of Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine's comments from Tuesday's vice presidential debate on the topic of abortion and adoption.

As Pence said:

The state of Indiana is also ... sought to make sure we expand alternatives and health-care counseling for women ... non-abortion alternatives. I'm also pleased with the fact we are well on our way in Indiana to becoming most pro-adoption state in America. I think you'll be pro-life you should be pro-adoption ... Like Mother Teresa said -- bring -- let's welcome the children into the world. There are so many families around the country who cannot have children.

Sounds nice, right? Pence's comments echo the argument of most pro-life advocates. It also shows how little time Pence has actually spent thinking about that position.

For those who still don't seem to accept the facts, let's review: Despite Pence's recent bill requiring women to pay for funerals for their unborn fetuses in his state, abortion is legal in the United States and protected by the Constitution. Been that way for decades. The Supreme Court said so. So watching Pence turn adoption into an argument about why women's rights should be rolled back made flames start to shoot up the side of my face.

Being pro-adoption doesn't mean you're anti-choice. Let's just get that straight right now. I can't have babies of my own, but I'm willing to fight like hell for another woman's right to make her own choice about whether to terminate a pregnancy. Pence conflating the two positions is wrong and shows his ignorance about both.

So let me help Pence and his life-crusading squad understand a few important facts about adoption they seem to have overlooked. 

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First and foremost, forcing women to birth babies and then give them away because they have no way to care for them is despicable and immoral.

Second, it's clear that Pence has no idea about the realities of adoption.

Once I gave up fertility treatments and dreams of birthing my own babies, I started to think about the various options for adoption. There's international adoption, private adoptions, and state adoptions out of foster care, just to name a few I considered. Now, with adoption of any kind you have to remember something very important: No matter what, in order for you to get your baby and have all of your dreams come true, another woman has to lose her baby. Adoptive parents are asking birth parents to do the hardest thing I can possibly imagine -- give up their child. 

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Could you do that? I don't think I could. Has Pence ever considered the feelings of a birth mother at losing her child in his tidy adoption equation? Or does he think that emotional pain is some kind of appropriate "punishment" for an unwanted pregnancy?

The truth is, besides a small sociopath group that I assume exists, most mothers don't give up their babies for adoption just because they're not into raising them. You don't grow a baby in your own body for nine months and then have no maternal feelings once that baby is born. That's just not how biology -- or the human heart -- works.

Most babies are put up for adoption because a woman doesn't have the resources to care for a baby, or is simply in such dire circumstances that she has no other choice but to let someone else raise her child. Or worse, the government takes her babies away from her. It's not an easy choice; and it should never be a pregnant woman's only option.

Real talk: He's suggesting teenagers and poor women should be forced by the government into becoming baby factories for women like me who can afford to adopt. That would be the impact of Pence's plan. I've seen it for reals. The suggestion is disgusting.

I know because another woman had to lose her baby in order for me to have the joy of raising my precious daughter. And that's just not something I can ever forget to honor. And it's a fact I feel a responsibility to point out to people like Pence who talk about adoption like it's no big deal. It's a huge deal.

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Pence's "just adopt" policy position also overlooks the nearly half a million kids who are in the foster care system in America every day, and the vast majority of kids waiting to be adopted, who have to wait years to find families, if they ever do.

There are plenty of reasons why, including racial bias and the reluctance of families to adopt older kids -- but none of that will be fixed by Pence's plan. How does he propose to help them? Pence is against letting LGBT couples adopt these kids and give them a loving home.

Where's his pro-adoption stance when it comes to those loving couples?

Essentially what Pence wants to do is deny women access to birth control and health care, particularly poor women who rely on clinics like Planned Parenthood, thereby forcing them to put their health and lives at risk to birth a baby they don't want to have so that women like me have more babies to adopt.

Mind you, this is no way ensures that more people in America can adopt, which actually would be a huge step forward. But expanding the number of parents who could adopt would require Pence and crew to accept nontraditional families as legit -- something they're just not willing to do. Because, you know, it's a matter of principles.

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That's not a pro-family policy. That's an anti-mother and anti-child policy.

Pence's position doesn't represent this adoptive mom or any of the others I know. He sounds more like a man who thinks his conservative street cred is far more important than the lives of the actual women and children whom his leadership damages.

Take it from me, someone who's been there: "Adoption" is no substitute for caring for women and respecting our power over our own bodies. When you care for mothers, you care for our babies, no matter who winds up raising them. And no one knows that better than adoptive families and those who love and support them.

Someone might want to clue in Mike Pence so he stops using us as props in his political theater to undermine women's rights. He has no right to speak for us and use our families this way. That's what's immoral.


Image via NBC News/YouTube

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