Sunday, January 11, 2009

Less Racism, Fewer Abortions

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.—Psalm 127:3

I listened to a story yesterday on Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life with Ira Glass entitled “Babies Buying Babies.” It really made an impression on me. Elna Baker tells about the time she worked at FAO Schwartz, an upscale toy store in New York City. Dressed as a nurse, she sold, life-like, newborn Lee Middleton Dolls for an “adoption fee” of $125. After a segment of MTV's show Rich Girls aired in which a girl adopted one of the dolls, they began going like hotcakes. Rich parents and their spoiled children lined up to “adopt”  these newborns until the unthinkable happened—all of the white babies sold out five weeks before Christmas. With the dolls on back order from the factory there was no chance of resupply until the following January. Minority babies sold slowly, first the Asian babies, then the Hispanic babies, until all that was left was a nursery full of black babies. Even a defective, factory-reject monster baby the workers nicknamed “Nubbins” was adopted ahead of dozens of perfect little black babies.

Thankfully, racism in America is not as bad today as it used to be, though the story above illustrates we still have a long way to go. On January 20th, we will get our first minority president, and with all of the excitement and celebration this day rightly deserves I’m afraid we might forget that it nearly coincides with the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22). This coming Sunday (Jan. 18) is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, a day to remember how precious human life is and to mourn the loss of over forty million babies who have been aborted in America alone.  (You can get resources for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday here.) 

The point of focusing on the sanctity of human life is not to condemn people who have had abortions, but to shine a light on an important moral issue. I realize some women are caught in impossible situations where there is (or seems like) no other choice besides abortion. I’m not passing judgment on them, and the answer is to go beyond merely preaching, though it’s not a bad place to start. Overturning Roe v. Wade, whether by constitutional amendment or judicial action, will not solve the underlying ethical and social problems or end abortion. We need to do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies, help pregnant mothers in difficult circumstances, promote adoption, reduce poverty and racism. And, yes, there is a connection between race, poverty, and abortion. (Interestingly enough, this year Martin Luther King, Jr. Day  is the day after Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, though rare is the church that will celebrate both.) 

The rate of abortions for non-whites in America is double compared to white women. The ratio of abortions to live births is higher among minorities—39 for every hundred live births for nonwhites vs. 25 for every hundred among whites. Some have, using hyperbole, even compared abortion to racial genocide because of this disparity. 

Maybe if more white parents were willing to adopt minority babies there would be fewer abortions. Just a thought.

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