To the editors:
In "A Girl in Trouble" (August 17), Flo Levinsohn trots out the usual litany of statistics and speculation concerning the real and imagined results of abortion regulations. What she conveniently neglects to mention (and the statistic that I personally am most interested in learning) in her "before and after" analysis is whether, as a result of parental notification laws, more babies became available for adoption.
It has long been my contention that, just as one of the most immediate results of Roe v. Wade was a severe drop in adoptable infants, one of the most noticeable results of anticipated restrictions would be an increase of babies given up for adoption.
Why the reticence, Ms. Levinsohn? Could it be that the possibility of a (relatively) "happy" ending to the plight of "a girl in trouble"--that is, a live infant welcomed into a loving family--is just too disturbing to contemplate?
Florence Hamlish Levinsohn replies:
The writer who insists that only her initials and neighborhood be published is certainly correct that an unfortunate side effect of legalized abortion has been a decline of adoptable white babies. (There are, for economic and racist reasons, many more black and Hispanic babies looking for that happy ending the writer refers to.) But it seems that a happy ending for the baby can mean great unhappiness and physical risk for many young girls during the pregnancy. As I said in my article, the physical risks for adolescents of carrying a baby to term far exceed the risk of abortion. Add to that the not inconsiderable psychological distress, the loss of school time, and the financial burden, not to mention problems in the family. The writer, like most antiabortionists, seems to see a female as a baby-making machine and fails (or refuses) to see the individual girl or woman who inhabits that machine, who has powerful feelings about her own body and its use. The fate of the baby, not the fate of the mother, concerns the antiabortionists.
The prochoice people, on the other hand, see the fate of the individual girl or woman as paramount. Simply and unequivocally, they maintain the right of a woman, whatever age, to decide how she will use her own body. They believe that it is her natural right, which is ensured, at least for now, by the U.S. Constitution. The parental-notification laws effectively remove that right from adolescents.
But there's another side to this story. Is the writer concerned about all the babies and children parents have abandoned because they can't care for them or the children who have been removed from their parents because they were being abused? There are plenty of babies and children begging for loving homes, many of them rejected by loving parents who can't face raising seriously handicapped children. I wonder how many of those children were the result of unplanned pregnancies carried to term under very dubious circumstances? I wonder whether N.D.G. could organize her colleagues to find homes for these unfortunate children? I'd be happy to refer her to the proper agencies.
On a lighter note, I am Flo only to my close friends, those who could never imagine that an "infant welcomed into a loving family" would be "too disturbing to contemplate."