Local View: In Minnesota, fund alternatives to abortion, too

From the column: "Abortion should not be the first option. ... Providing the resources ... to support the woman in every way to allow her to carry her unborn child to term ... should (come) first ."

clothing that reads Give Life A Chance
A protester with Pro-life Ministries of Duluth stands outside the WE Health Clinic in Duluth.
File photo by Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

There is no question that an unintended pregnancy, in many cases, places a woman in a desperate situation based on various circumstances, such as her family situation, sources of emotional support, financial situation, the presence of the unborn child’s father, and the availability of resources to assist her with her prenatal and postnatal needs.

Abortion should not be the first option considered, however.

As a followup to my March 6 “Local View” column (“When unborn can be killed, where is respect for human life?”), I urge other options to abortion.

Providing the resources necessary to support the woman in every way to allow her to carry her unborn child to term and beyond should be the first option. This includes education, counseling, financial support, and any other resources that will help make the choice to continue the pregnancy through birth easier. Preserving the life of the unborn child and keeping the child with his or her mother should be the primary goal of a society that values human life.

Pro-life advocates promote adoption as the preferred solution for unwanted pregnancies instead of abortion. Yet adoption is not necessarily the panacea that pro-lifers suggest. Many doctors and psychologists now understand that the bonding process between mother and child does not begin at birth but rather is a continuum of physiological, psychological, and spiritual events that begin in utero and continue throughout the postnatal-bonding period. It has been demonstrated that a baby already knows his or her own mother at birth and within minutes of birth, before ever seeing Mom’s face, can pick out that face among a gallery of photos. Adoption imposes a postnatal separation that interrupts the bonding process between the birth mother and child, creating a subconscious experience of abandonment and loss in the mind of the child. As a result, adoption involves a whole panoply of mental health issues, of which most adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth mothers are not consciously aware.


Many of those issues could be mitigated through pre-adoption education and counseling for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents and post-adoption counseling for all in the adoptive triad. If adoption is to be endorsed, provisions should be made for funding those services to all involved in the adoptive process. For a fuller discussion, I recommend Nancy Verrier’s book, “The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child.”

Pregnant women essentially have three options: keep the baby, abort the baby, or adopt the baby, all of which have life-changing consequences for both the mother and the child. In 2019, the year before COVID-19 and three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion was the selected option for 13% of all Minnesota pregnancies. Other alternatives were chosen for the remaining 87%.

Most of the reasons for choosing abortion involve financial concerns. Another reason is the timing of the pregnancy, either because of current children or interference with education or career.

Funding for providing prenatal and postnatal financial support and assistance to pregnant women in need would help to alleviate some concerns. Funding for adoptive education and counseling would make adoption a better alternative.

Yet, despite the overwhelming overall preference for live birth over abortion among all Minnesota pregnancies, the Minnesota Legislature is currently considering proposals to increase funding for abortions while ending state funding for centers that support abortion alternatives. Providing funding to sufficiently support all alternatives would more effectively provide women with a holistic approach to their pregnancy.

Rick Leighton of Duluth is a retired attorney and the father of two adopted children. He wrote this for the News Tribune.

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Rick Leighton

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