Adoption and Abortion

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” May 8, 1996]

On the issue of abortion, I’ve been around the block. At one point, I believed that abortion was necessary to set women free from the burden of unplanned pregnancy. But gradually I changed; I realized that abortion is at root an act of violence, killing children and violating women’s bodies—and their hearts. As such, I couldn’t accept it as a legitimate way of solving social problems. Unnecessary surgery that kills your own child is a cheap substitute for providing women with life-affirming alternatives.


But perhaps because I’d been on both sides of this issue, I still had sympathy for my pro-choice friends. Though I believed their position was wrong, I understood its logic and respected their sincerity. That’s why I was so intrigued to hear, a few years ago, about the Common Ground movement. In a few cities around the country, pro-life and pro-choice advocates were actually sitting down and talking to each other in peace and mutual respect.


I’ve found that this process has three purposes. One is the simple goodness of dialogue itself.

Second, we set an example that combative debate doesn’t have to be our only model for resolving this conflict. And third, sometimes we prove that we can actually find something we agree on and can promote whole-heartedly.


Adoption is one such case in point. A couple of months ago the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice released its first position paper, authored by a pro-life lawyer and the retired administrator of an abortion clinic. In it they proposed adoption as a good solution to unplanned pregnancy, one that should be considered more often.


I have spoken with women across the country who had had abortions, seeking to understand their situation and discover possible solutions. Along the way, I’ve encountered women who have both had an abortion and placed a child for adoption. These women are unanimous: adoption has been the better choice.


After each experience, they said, there had been grieving. But after the adoption, they could feel pride in knowing they had done something noble; the memories were bittersweet. But after abortion it was more likely to be merely bitter—emptiness and guilt. These women reasoned: If I’m going to have pain one way or another, I’d rather have the kind where I can still be proud of myself, the kind I can live with—the kind my baby can live with.


Lots of us keep going around the block on abortion, searching for the best solution. But maybe there’s an exit that can lead us in a fresh direction. Pro-life and pro-choice can agree: it’s called adoption.

Frederica Matthewes-Green

About Frederica Matthewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service,, and Christianity Today, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has published 10 books, and has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She has been interviewed over 700 times, on venues like PrimeTime Live, the 700 Club, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fourteen grandchildren.

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