As the theocrats and pro-birthers are celebrating the court decision to overturn Roe v Wade, I can’t help but focus on the consequences of that decision. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 630,000 abortions in the United States each year. Many are for medical reasons to save the life of the woman. Many are because the fetus was not viable and could not live if brought to term. Presumably, the rest could have become living, breathing children. Children who, for a variety of reasons, were unwanted by the women who conceived them.
What if all of those fetuses were born? Certainly, though an economic and emotional burden to their mothers, some would be cared for and loved. Some would be given up for adoption to loving families. But more than you can imagine will live in poverty or worse – many victimized, abused, or abandoned. And tens of thousands would be placed in foster care, a system that is already overwhelmed and underfunded. (The foster system currently contributes, on average, less than 50 percent of what it costs a family to raise a foster child.)
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there were 407,000 children in the foster care system at the end of 2020. These kids face a daunting future. Many blame themselves for having been removed from their birth parents. Many want to return to their birth parents, even if those parents have abused them. Some are similarly abused by their foster parents.
Many foster kids feel lost and helpless. Those who are waiting for adoption feel unwanted. Many are shuttled from one foster family to another. Most feel insecure and uncertain about their futures, as well they should. That’s because, each year, 23,000 of foster kids age out of the system without finding permanent families. Approximately 45 percent of those kids will become homeless within a year. A significant percentage will end up jobless and on public assistance. And at least a quarter of them face a disproportionate risk of becoming incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care. In fact, nearly 20 percent of our prison population spent time in the foster care system.
Not surprisingly, the children of color who will be born as a result of the “Supreme” Court’s forced birth decision will face more challenges than whites. According to the Juvenile Law Center, “Black children are around twice as likely to be placed in foster care as white kids. Because black kids are already subject to disproportionate rates of school discipline and criminalization, being a foster youth compounds this risk. Foster youth, particularly girls, are targeted by sex traffickers, and the criminalization of sex work can funnel these victims of modern-day slavery into the criminal justice system.”
So, when all of you pro-birthers are done celebrating, get ready to open your homes and your bank accounts. Thanks to your efforts to overturn Roe v Wade, there are going to be a hell of a lot of kids who will be counting on you.