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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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48 Responses

  1. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 27, 2009 at 3:44 pm |

    “Their big idea, apparently, is to just pay women if they promise to give their baby up for adoption — but not too much, as Waldman warns, as we would hate to provide an “incentive” for women to go out and have babies for money.”

    I’m trying to figure out why it’s okay to pay women for their unplanned babies, but not okay to pay women for their planned babies. Is it just not as mustache-twirlingly villainous and therefore less satisfying if the women giving their babies up really are choosing that option?

  2. Sue
    Sue June 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm |

    I’m guessing it’s because that would give the women some kind of actual agency in the situation.

  3. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm |

    Thank you, Jill, for your post.

    Here’s the thing with the pro-life agenda, for me, at least: While they advocate adoption over abortion, and are such staunch advocates of the latter, how many children have *they* adopted, as a result of an unplanned pregnancy or a rape?

    The other thing for me is: Despite 21st century medicine, carrying a child to term is not only costly, but giving birth is dangerous. Women still die as a result of giving birth. But, I guess the two knuckleheads advocating cash for babies didn’t think that far ahead.

    Sigh.

  4. Yolanda C.
    Yolanda C. June 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm |

    Why is that the media sees NOTHING wrong with using cismen as authoritative spokespersons on abortion? Drives me up the damn wall every time…

  5. Beet
    Beet June 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm |

    Who would we contact at the Times to protest lack of representation of women in the discussion about abortion?

  6. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm |

    Oops! I mean to say, “…are such staunch advocates of the former…” My bad.

  7. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil June 27, 2009 at 4:40 pm |

    Beet, you can contact the Public Editor: public@nytimes.com

    The funny thing is, both Waldman and Saletan acknowledge that a) giving up a child for adoption is very difficult for the birth mother and b) that increasing the number of adoptions doesn’t solve the underlying problem of women getting pregnant when they don’t want to, and then they just leave those issues behind.

    I’m not terribly surprised that the Time posted this–I have a “WTF, NYT? Part whatever” series on my blog.

  8. piny
    piny June 27, 2009 at 5:13 pm |

    I’m trying to figure out why it’s okay to pay women for their unplanned babies, but not okay to pay women for their planned babies. Is it just not as mustache-twirlingly villainous and therefore less satisfying if the women giving their babies up really are choosing that option?

    I think it’s because they’d have to confront the comodification in play here: that we’re not giving mothers money so that they can raise their children, or giving pregnant women money so that they can have healthy and secure pregnancies, but bribing women not to abort. The money is supposed to be like a token of appreciation for your continued pregnancy, but not actual compensation. That would attach a higher value to pregnancy than would permit cavalier paternalism. But they don’t want to sound callous, so they cover it up by saying that it would turn us into wombwhores. I agree that exploitation is terrible–and in this case, not hypothetical–but the pro-lifers want slavery. This is therefore the compromise Saletan keeps talking about, and he should own it.

  9. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 27, 2009 at 5:48 pm |

    “I think it’s because they’d have to confront the comodification in play here”

    If this is like most of these measures/proposals, the money only gets forked over upon a live birth and subsequent signed adoption contract. In which case, I don’t think there’s any way to not confront the commodification.

  10. Tired Feminist
    Tired Feminist June 27, 2009 at 6:52 pm |

    I’m confused Mr. Waldman. You know, I have lady-bits so my brain doesn’t work. Lucky I have men like you to splain things to me. You anti-choicers always say that every life and baby is priceless, but now you say the otherwise-aborted fetus is worth a grand?

  11. Melancholia
    Melancholia June 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm |

    Didn’t we already do this with AFDC, which essentially incentivized childbirth? Logically that acts as an incentive not to abort just as much as an outright payment would. Conservatives screamed about AFDC because they felt you shouldn’t incentivize poor people having kids. Why would they support something like this then which would have the same effects they complained about? Aside from the other complaints about this idea, it’s not politically tenable anyway.

  12. aag
    aag June 27, 2009 at 8:10 pm |

    As an adoptive mother this makes me see red.

    Does the birth mother get the money when she learns she’s pregnant? When she decides to place the child? When the child is born?

    What happens if she changes her mind? What happens if the child ends up with a different skin tone than what’s expected? What happens if the child is in some way less than perfect, either through random genetic chance or because of poor pregnancy decisions on the mother’s part?

    Will she have to give back the cash if there’s no perfect baby to give to a nice infertile couple? And then who will care for that baby?

    I’m pretty sure it won’t be the pro-life crowd, because if they were truly concerned about children there would be no children currently waiting in the foster care system for adoption.

    Before infertility and adoption I was moderately pro-choice. After infertility and adoption I could not be any more pro-choice.

  13. yugenue
    yugenue June 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm |

    Melancholia:

    It’s not the same at all. AFDC was “incentivizing” women to have more babies and raise them themselves. This program would “incentivize” women to have the babies… and then hand them over to The Right People to raise.

    Everybody wins! Proper middle class people get babies, the Saletans all get to gloat about their deep thought and compromises, and the women involved… well, sucks to be them, but then Saletan et al have already decided that those women don’t get a say. So, Everybody Who Matters Wins!

  14. yugenue
    yugenue June 27, 2009 at 8:51 pm |

    To be clear, I do not think that AFDC did in fact “incentivize” anything of the sort.

  15. Marle
    Marle June 27, 2009 at 9:27 pm |

    AFDC definately did not incentivize having kids. Kids are expensive and AFDC isn’t much. Now it’s been replaced by TANF, which, depending on the state, only lasts 2-3 years. That’s far from an incentive to take care of someone for 18.

    If we want to encourage woman to not have abortions with money, we should pay them enough to cover all their prenatal needs, and if they choose not to place their children for adoption we should make sure they have the support and resources to raise said children. Of course, that’s harder and more expensive than standing in front of an abortion clinic with signs, so I guess we’re not getting any help from anti-choicers, no matter how more effective it would be.

  16. Erin H.
    Erin H. June 27, 2009 at 9:29 pm |

    I agree with what Jill is saying, but this language is extremely ableist:

    “we’d rather not have fetuses with abnormalities that are incompatible with life”

    Language like this is really damaging to the disability community.

  17. Marle
    Marle June 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm |

    Erin, “abnormalities that are incompatible with life” is not the same as a disability. It’s a euphemism for a condition that will cause a fetus or baby to die painfully shortly after birth or before birth even with all medical care. Wishing that fetuses and babies that will die painfully would have never been conceived instead has nothing to do with people with disabilities.

  18. Annie C
    Annie C June 27, 2009 at 10:07 pm |

    …suggests paying women some amount of money to not have an abortion — not just because women who continue pregnancies often undergo tremendous financial strain, but as an incentive for her to give the baby up for adoption.

    Too late

    ——

    From about.com

    Agency fees
    Listed with the low and high price ranges that can be expected.

    Application fee: Low – $100 High – $500
    Home study and preparation services: Low – $700 High – $2,500
    Post-placement supervision: Low – $200 High – $1,500
    Parent physical (each parent): Low – $35 High – $150
    Psychiatric evaluation(each parent; if required)?: Low – $250 High – $400

    Attorney fees

    Document preparation: Low – $500 High – $2,000
    Petition & court representation to finalize placement: Low – $2,500 High -$12,000

    Advertising: Low – $500 High – $5,000

    Birth parent expenses (Amount and type of expenses allowable for payment usually restricted by state law and subject to review by the court.)
    Medical expenses (prenatal, birth/delivery, postnatal for mother; perinatal care for child): Low – $0 (insurance) High – $10,000 – $20,000 (depending on difficulty of the delivery, etc.)

    Living expenses (rent, food, clothing, transportation, etc): Low – $500 High – $12,000

    Legal representation: Low – $500 High – $1,500
    Counseling: Low – $500 High – $2,000

    ——

    All of which is already paid by the adopting parents.

  19. Keldrena
    Keldrena June 27, 2009 at 10:20 pm |

    Erin H., I assume they mean that the fetus would during or right after birth. They wouldn’t live at all.

  20. Keldrena
    Keldrena June 27, 2009 at 10:25 pm |

    I could be wrong though. I am disabled, but sometimes I don’t catch these things.

  21. UnHinged Hips
    UnHinged Hips June 27, 2009 at 11:27 pm |

    In what way, Erin? I could be missing something, but I don’t see how saying that women want fetuses that can survive birth has any connection to ableism.

  22. Julie
    Julie June 28, 2009 at 12:08 am |

    Yeah, Erin… I don’t understand that either. My son had anomalies incompatible with life- I really wish he hadn’t, because he would still be alive. It wasn’t that I wished he was “typical”, it was that I wish he could have survived. I hope to never have another child that dies immediately after birth due to his not having necessary internal organs. I don’t see how this is damaging to the disability community and that’s what I do every day. My job is to advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. I loved my son, disabilities and all, but I miss him deeply and wish he was still here. How is that ableist?

  23. Keldrena
    Keldrena June 28, 2009 at 3:10 am |

    One more thing I wanted to add. Many adoptions already very coercive. This would not help. I advocates for adoptee and first mother right s and I think that a policy like that could a lot of harm. As a transracial adoptee I know I’ve struggled with identity a lot and it’s almost led to suicide several times.

  24. chava
    chava June 28, 2009 at 7:51 am |

    This is completely ridiculous and shame on the New York Times for publishing it.

    How about we assume that maybe mothers can’t be BRIBED out of their decisions about their bodies 100% of the time, that maybe we have deeper and more significant reasons than cash??

    What about giving us money to feed, house, and raise the child ourselves? Or gee, paying for prenatal care or writing maternity leave into the damn Constitution?

    Guess that might be more expensive than giving the baby away to some rich folks in exchange for a pittance.

  25. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 28, 2009 at 7:51 am |

    OMFG.

    I don’t care if you offered me a million dollars–I would abort no matter what because, hello, I don’t want to be pregnant. EVER. As uncomfortable as it makes the forced-birthers and the mushy middle who’d rather that women all be oozing mother’s milk from every pore, the truth is that there are actually women like me. Jeez. The way these people act, you’d think carrying a fetus for ten months is like wearing a specific type of socks, and that adoption is just like handing over an old pair of shoes. (And my friends who have adopted, like AAG, tend to see red when they hear this shit from forced-birthers and folks in the mushy middle.)

    how many children have *they* adopted, as a result of an unplanned pregnancy or a rape

    My questions are: how many children have THEY borne when they didn’t want to be pregnant, and how many children have THEY borne and then had to give up for adoption? I’m not against adoption at all, but I do find the use of it as a feel good solution to be (willfully?) ignorant of what birth mothers go through, patronizing pats on the head notwithsanding about how beautiful and giving it is, while being of couse difficult.

  26. Dan
    Dan June 28, 2009 at 8:56 am |

    You make great points, except I disagree with your opening statement. To say that men should never write articles about reproductive issues because they will never become pregnant is like saying white people should never think about ways to end racism because they aren’t black. Middle class people should never write about ending poverty because it doesn’t effect them directly, etc.
    What’s important is that the writers of whatever it is, speak to those effected and attempt to understand the problem as thoroughly as they can.

  27. bleh
    bleh June 28, 2009 at 9:14 am |

    Yes, to Sheelzebub – they could throw millions and I would not carry a fetus. I just prefer not to.

    And wow, conservatives think everything can (and should) be bought and sold. I wonder how they address that little issue in their relationships .

  28. Wednesday
    Wednesday June 28, 2009 at 9:47 am |

    It’s particularly tacky for the NYTimes to feature this debate between two men, in terms of “preventing abortions”, when within the past two weeks the NYTimes blog Motherlode featured a young woman who was facing unplanned pregnancy at the start of graduate school. She ultimately chose abortion because she felt adoption would be too heartbreaking, and even then the emotional and financial support just wasn’t there; in fact, some professors would’ve discriminated against her for being pregnant.

    The regular blogger is presumably a NYTimes employee. So right there, on the same damned website, already on the NYTimes payroll, there was already a woman who could bring a broader perspective. (Including the young woman who chose abortion in the debate might be even better but would definitely put her at risk – so far the “you are murdering your baby, I will pray he does not suffer horrible terrible pain when you kill him why didn’t you give him to me, a random internet stranger, to adopt?” crowd only know her first name, not her face.)

  29. noob
    noob June 28, 2009 at 10:11 am |

    While I agree that NYT’s failure to incorporate a female perspective into this discussion was absolutely pathetic and that many of the assumptions underlying this proposal are offensive and patronizing to women…it’s unclear to me whether implementing this proposal would actually make anyone worse-off. Pregnant women who felt that the stipend wasn’t “worth it,” for all of the reasons discussed here — health risks, degradation in bodily autonomy, emotional travails of adoption, etc. — would just decline and abort. I am about as ardently pro-choice as possible, and maybe that’s why I’d cautiously support this plan, at least at this early theoretical stage: at the end of the day Waldman, idiot though he is, proposes to expand rather than curtail the number of choices women have.

  30. Erin H
    Erin H June 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm |

    I often hear people say such things (“incompatible with life”) about people with disabilities, so I’m sorry if I misunderstood you.

  31. Michael Hussey
    Michael Hussey June 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm |

    This is less about the unborn than Evangelicals shoving their religious views at us. These same people believe dinosaurs never existed. I heard one Religious Righter on the Florida legislator say we should drill offshore for oil because God will make more oil. How do you reason with that logic?

  32. Northeast Elizabeth
    Northeast Elizabeth June 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm |

    The notion of “supporting” women so they can do what they “want” is problematic. “Support” is defined narrowly as “giving money” and and “want” is defined as either (1) giving birth or (2) aborting. However, women “want” other things than children and abortions, so the discussion should be broadened to providing funds for any and every conceivable need or desire.

    Moreover, women may simply “want” the money (the “support”) to stockpile so that they may later choose among their own desires rather than having particular choices picked off a list of what may be acceptably financed. In an ideal pro-choice world, women would simply be given money unconditionally without privileging particular choices, e.g., car, boats babies, computers, abortions, furniture. etc.

  33. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 29, 2009 at 8:33 am |

    “I often hear people say such things (”incompatible with life”) about people with disabilities, so I’m sorry if I misunderstood you.”

    Bizarre. The only time I’ve heard the phrase “incompatible with life” used outside of conversations involving fetal defect/demise has been in medical descriptions (generally post-mortem) of conditions that are, well, incompatible with life. You know, “occlusion of the pulmonary artery is incompatible with life”‘ kind of thing. There’s not really a way to work a value judgment into a statement of “this is fatal” fact.

  34. Erin H
    Erin H June 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm |

    I’ve heard that phrase used like this as well: “So-and-so is unable to leave their house, they are on a ventilator, multiple seizures a day. Their disabilities are incompatible with life.”

    I understand now that Jill did not mean it that way, but that’s what I thought of immediately.

  35. Pockysmama
    Pockysmama June 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm |

    I’d cautiously support this plan, at least at this early theoretical stage …

    Hmmm, this cash stipend would work out to about $.40/hour for an entire 9 month pregancy. That certainly goes a loooooong way toward expanding women’s choices, if you remain an incubator, we’ll pay you (slave? third world?) wages. Shall we sign you up first, Noob?

  36. noob
    noob June 29, 2009 at 3:34 pm |

    “In an ideal pro-choice world, women would simply be given money unconditionally without privileging particular choices, e.g., car, boats babies, computers, abortions, furniture. etc.”

    Seriously? Do you mean upon becoming pregnant, or upon “becoming a woman” (finally an upside to getting your first period, I guess) or would the payments just commence upon being born female? And…given money by whom?

    Or do you simply mean that an an ideal world everyone would be born rich?

  37. PBC Blog » Web Roundup: Violence Against Women, “Common Ground” on Abortion?, Rebranding Virginity

    […] Bloggingheads.tv and picked up by the New York Times, sparked a major backlash in the blogosphere. Jill Filipovich of Feministe was infuriated, writing, “Their big idea, apparently, is to just pay women if they promise to give their baby up for […]

  38. Northeast Elizabeth
    Northeast Elizabeth June 29, 2009 at 8:24 pm |

    Noob,

    The main post suggests that “Pro-choicers are concerned with women first and foremost; providing economic support for women probably sounds great to most of us.” My point is that this formulation of “choice” narrowly defines the scope of a woman’s agency to the decision to breed or abort. If economic support is to be given – and I’m assuming Jill means governmental support — it should be allocated in a way that does not define women by their reproductive function.

    The question of when the support starts is of course problematic, but the difficulty is common to every decision to direct public fund to a particular class of people. As Jill notes, the decision is difficult even when the class is limited to pregnant women. But again, my focus is merely upon whether it should be so limited.

  39. Katlyn
    Katlyn June 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm |

    Dan, the issue is not just that they’re discussing reproductive rights. They’re trying to say what pregnant women should do when wanting to get an abortion. I don’t think that’s really the same as discussing racism at all. It’s about a person who will never be pregnant, therefore has no way of understanding the firsthand experience of being pregnant, telling a pregnant woman what she should do with her body. It’s just fucked up to have someone try to force people to do certain things when they can never and will never experience the situation themselves.

    If it doesn’t directly effect them and they have no experience with it, how much room should they even have in a debate about a person’s private decisions concerning their body?

  40. Dan S.
    Dan S. June 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm |

    In an ideal pro-choice world, women would simply be given money unconditionally without privileging particular choices, e.g., car, boats babies, computers, abortions, furniture. etc.

    Annual wage-gap payments, indexed to equality.

  41. OMK
    OMK June 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm |

    Payment for the promise of carrying a fetus to term seems to bring up the same issues for me as payment for sex. In both cases, a person is giving up her autonomy for an amount of time. In both situations the person being paid is often in a vulnerable economic decision; therefore the “choice” is not often really a choice.

    I agree that it’s utterly frustrating to have a two-way dialogue on this topic with two men and this supposed solution drastically oversimplifies the decision to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

  42. MomTFH
    MomTFH July 4, 2009 at 11:21 am |

    First of all, of course I am livid they chose these two men to discuss this issue. I think it was in incredibly poor taste to have these so called “solutions” suggested after the assassination of an abortion provider, too. How about talking about destigmatizing abortion, decreasing support of extremists in the media (ahem, BeliefNet) and protecting our health care practitioners?

    Adoption is not an alternative to abortion. It is a false solution. I live in Florida, and the “Choose Life” plates have tried to pay women to choose to put up their children for adoption instead of choosing to terminate. They don’t have many takers. Women do not want to be forced to carry to term. It’s not just the new child that will be born, which is a big deal, but the pregnancy is about a year of the woman’s life.

    Adoption is not painless or victimless. Adoption is not uncontroversial. Surrendering a baby is not an easy, everybody is happy solution to an unwanted pregnancy. And two white men with money, stability and no chance of every getting pregnant have no place discussing these issues int he New York Times.

  43. David
    David July 5, 2009 at 12:13 am |

    Views on morality have nothing to do with whether you are able to give birth or not. If you believe that the baby is a human being, then no matter what, killing it is murder. If you don’t think it is human, then there should be no problem, unless we get a situation where the population is dying out and we need more babies, which is extremely unlikely. Yes, I am anti-abortion (not anti-choice, that term is rather demeaning, saying that we are all Big Brothers who want to control every aspect of people’s lives), but, as I am on a feminist website, I know that the majority of people aren’t going to agree with me. I just want to make sure that people are disagreeing for the right reasons. Saying that “it is an inconvenience” is not a good enough reason to kill the fetus, assuming you think it is human.

  44. Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy
    Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy July 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm |

    So how much money would it take to compensate a woman to place her child for adoption?

    I found this: “The jury awarded the estate of Evelyn Forman $120,000 for pain and suffering she endured between the time the missile struck the airplane and the time the airplane crashed.”

    Not for her death, but for her emotional pain and suffering for the perhaps though at least 104 seconds for time actually suffering before she died.

    For arguments sake, we will round that up to 2 minutes. We’ll take the 120K and reduce it to 100K for easy math making us a nice round number of 50K per minute of suffering at a legally acceptable rate. I’ll even be so kind as to say: Ok we won’t measure my Kool aid years, but only count the last 8 when I was mentally transforming to the pain filled bitter birthmother that I am infamously known for today. So that’s 8 years with 365 days each times 24 hours in a day times 60 minutes in an hour times the 50K per minute rate for emotional pain and suffering.

    Great! I’ll take my 210,240,000,000 dollars please.

  45. paragraphein
    paragraphein July 7, 2009 at 12:33 am |

    “it’s unclear to me whether implementing this proposal would actually make anyone worse-off. Pregnant women who felt that the stipend wasn’t “worth it,” for all of the reasons discussed here — health risks, degradation in bodily autonomy, emotional travails of adoption, etc. — would just decline and abort. ”

    So as a woman who’s actually relinquished a baby for adoption, let me make it clear: paying women to give their babies to “acceptable” families will hurt the WOMEN who surrender the children and the CHILDREN who are surrendered.

    Sheelzebub–thank you for your comment. Yours was one of the few that actually seemed to understand that we “birth mothers” (mothers) are real women with real emotions, and that the adoption industry certainly doesn’t need any more means of legal coercion at its disposal to break up more families.

  46. Dana
    Dana July 7, 2009 at 12:03 pm |

    David, it’s not about whether it’s human. Do you fancy being forced by law to be a blood or organ donor? No? Why not? The people who need your blood and organs are human beings, and if you withhold from them, you could kill them. Does that idea give you the creeps? It should. Now imagine yourself a woman, being told you must be someone’s life support machine for forty weeks, not just the couple of hours it takes to donate a pint.

    I’ve been pregnant twice. It’s not a matter of mere “convenience.” Ever given birth? No? Then don’t tell me about convenience.

    All that said, the whole arena of fertility medicine and reproductive alternatives makes me sick. It results in kids not knowing where they come from, not being in touch with their family history and it also results in women being used as brood mares with their purported “consent,” and never mind what their participation in this farce says on a meta level about the place of women in society. Screw it all. My opinion is, if you can’t have a baby then you can’t have a baby, be an honorary auntie or uncle to someone else’s baby and get on with your life. I think we do need something similar to the Hawai’ian o’hana so that more adults can participate in a child’s life so that we don’t feel we HAVE to bear children to be “complete” or anything.

    The current way of doing things, though, has got to go. At this point I am completely opposed to our present system of adoption in which a child’s identity is erased just so some infertile couple can feel good about themselves or whatever. If the child’s in imminent danger from its real parent(s) or is an orphan and in neither case has extended family then fine, but the vast majority of children in unstable circumstances do not fit that description. And they still deserve to know where they come from and to grow up knowing their blood relatives in most cases.

    My daughter was brought in to my room after her birth, crying like her heart would break. Right as she was brought through the door I spoke to her. She hadn’t seen me yet, but she knew my voice and quieted immediately. You can’t tell me abortion is crueler than adoption. What if I hadn’t been there? What would that have done to her? I don’t like to think about the answer.

    I did lose her brother to adoption. I couldn’t fight it, I didn’t have the money for a lawyer and he was in another state with his grandparents at the time. I had no options. I’m sure he thinks I abandoned him. Their one answer for me was “keep in touch, call and write letters.” I couldn’t initiate calls because his dad might be around and raise hell, and I didn’t feel writing letters was actual parenting. And that’s the best they were willing to do. Me going to live near them with none of my friends or family nearby when they had already been hostile and nasty to me was not an option.

    They just view you as the generative material for the child. You’re not even human to them. What they do to you emotionally and spiritually, or what they do to the child who misses hir mother, doesn’t matter at all.

  47. krusher
    krusher August 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm |

    Maybe you guys will be happy to hear about the new “Cash for Babies” plan that will be implemented along the lines of “Cash for Clunkers”. Under this new plan, you would have to turn in anyone over 65 to get the cash. That way, you still are able to get the required death.

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