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When Pro-Life Is Anti-Family

By Mirah Riben

02 January, 2007

Nothing can describe many alleged “pro-life” programs better than the phrase about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. How ironic that those concerned about the lives of unborn fetuses could create programs which in fact act to destroy families, the cornerstone of civilization.

Take for instance, the state of Florida’s “Choose Life” license plate fund established by a group of Marion County residents who wanted to encourage women to choose life over abortion. A benign enough sounding cause – saving lives - until you look into the major anti-family strong attached to it:

Funds raised through the sale of the license plates are used to support pregnant women who plan to continue their pregnancies, based on financial need, but with a big string attached. Women who do not abort an unplanned pregnancy, but choose life and desire to raise their own children, are denied help from the program. The funds can ONLY be given to those who choose life and relinquish their beloved babies for adoption, usually by non-related strangers.

In other words, the state fund is used not to save babies and support mothers and families in crisis, but to increase the supply of babies available for a very lucrative adoption industry estimated at $2-3 billion dollars a year. If the goal were truly to save the life of an unborn from being aborted, why apply a restrictive condition that creates lifelong grief?

Last year, the seventh year of the program, the plates were the biggest seller among Florida’s 104 specialty tags, with 41,051 sales – at $22 each ($19 for renewal). Statewide last year, counties spent nearly $200,000 less than they took in, and they had three times more money in reserves than they did in expenditures. The cruel anti-family design of this program, would rather have money sit unused than use it to help struggling families who chose not to abort and may need assistance to remain together.

Local county deputy human services directors, such as Lee County’s Ann Arnall is frustrated at the limitations of the legislation while hundreds of families are flooding her department for emergency help due to the economic downturn. Seventy percent of Choose Life money can be spent on material needs of women who “choose” adoption, such as shelter, medical care, maternity clothes, transportation and food; the other 30 percent can be spent on adoption “education” and “awareness” – biased education and awareness that leads to only one option.

Few women and teens want to willingly relinquish their children; most seek help instead to be able to parent, but are denied. Many of those who are convinced ultimately to let their children go, do so – reluctantly - at the last minute because of lack of alternatives and the support they need, and are therefore ineligible as well. At Lifeline Family Center of Cape Coral, for instance, where expectant mothers take a class about adoption but are offered no parenting classes, most do not decide until they are in their last month of pregnancy. Adoption is almost never thought about during the first trimester—the only time it would be “in competition” with a decision to abort.

Only about 1 in 10 of Lifeline residents ever makes an adoption plan, according to Kathy Miller, president of Lifeline. Miller wishes the money also could help financially needy women who parent. Instead parenting, as a choice, is being discriminated against while the state fund has $1.5 million sitting – unused.

If women accept the funds early on, one has to wonder, are they then obligated, or made to feel indebted, to go through with an adoption even if they were to rethink that decision or find new support from the father, their family or elsewhere? Is that not coercive?

Russ Amerling, one of the Choose Life founders, said the program was designed for a purpose: To offer a choice to women who neither wanted to abort nor parent, but who needed financial assistance; and to educate women and their counselors about adoption.

Are these women being given education or indoctrination? Note that no parenting education is offered, despite the fact that parenting is what the majority of women need despite being caught off guard by a pregnancy. Many married and single women experience unplanned pregnancies and never consider either abortion or adoption.

Making support contingent upon one decision over another is a clear violation of all recognized ethical, objective options counseling and not in keeping with allowing for an informed choice, and the right to self-determination as recommended by National Association of Social Workers and the Child Welfare League of America. In fact, according to ethical adoption practice, no decision to relinquish parental rights and allow an adoption of one’s child prior to the birth and time spent adjusting to the child as a reality. This program immorally an unethically locks women into a pre-birth contract.

It is sad that well-meaning intentions of many deeply religious believers are being used by a larger picture. Pro-lifers are unwittingly pawns for a religious right agenda that is anti-family and more interested in punishing “sinful” “unwed” mothers than in saving unborn lives. Truly caring, giving Christians need to ask themselves what Jesus would have done? Would he select who is worthy of his help based on their decision to parent or not? Under these restrictions, The Virgin Mary, and unmarried teenage expectant mother, would be left out in the cold manger and offered no assistance, as she chose to raise her son instead of handing him off to unrelated strangers—possibly older and wealthier— to raise.

Well-intentioned pro-life supporters are naively unaware of the connection between the religious right and the multi-billion dollar a year national adoption industry. Babies are a huge, money-making commodity and the ties are closely intertwined between the National Council for Adoption—the largest lobbying organization of adoption agencies, primarily those of the Later Day Saints—and Evangelical Christians organizations such as Focus on the Family who held a three-day summit in Colorado in May, 2007 to promote adoption.

Programs such as this Florida license plate program which offer funds to expectant mothers allegedly to save the life of their unborn—but which hold out discriminatory caveats—need to seen for what they are: a mean-spirited attack on the family and a violation of the separation of church and state. Religious beliefs are being used to discriminate against and deconstruct families in need and supply babies for adoption. This is sinful, immoral and a violation of the constitutional right to parent.

Mirah Riben is author of “The Stork Market” America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption industry”

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