Stop Weaponizing Adopted People For Your Anti-Choice Agenda

Michele Merritt
5 min readJan 22, 2022

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, adoptees have some thoughts

Forty-nine years ago on this day, it was decided by the Supreme Court that a pregnant person’s bodily autonomy supersedes any would-be governmental interference with the choice to terminate a pregnancy. Access to safe and legal abortions became a constitutionally granted right. But since then, conservative lawmakers, bolstered by evangelical ideologies, have been slowly chipping away at this right. Despite overwhelming legal and medical consensus that abortion is a basic element of reproductive healthcare, anti-choice advocates insist that a developing fetus has more claim to liberty than a fully-formed human.

The most recent wave of anti-choice propaganda has tapped into another misconception about abortion — namely, that the better alternative to this medical procedure is adoption. During the recent SCOTUS hearings the conservative justices, most notably, Amy Coney Barrett, blithely asserted that forcing a person to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term was not unethical because this does not imply the person would be forced to parent. That “burden,” she suggested, could be relieved by relinquishing the baby for adoption. She even went so far as to remind the court that Safe Haven Laws — where newborns can be deposited in “baby boxes” without any negative legal consequences to the relinquishing parents — are in place, insinuating that anonymously abandoning a baby at the local fire station is the solution to the manufactured abortion crisis.

Since the SCOTUS hearings, adoptees have been speaking out about the false equivalence between abortion and adoption. They have noted that being adopted is not the fairy tale society likes to claim it is, that it involves trauma — especially the experience of being relinquished by one’s parents — and above all, that adopted persons are not pawns in a political game centered on restricting access to reproductive healthcare.

As a pro-choice adoptee myself, it has been nothing short of infuriating to see my story appropriated as a red herring argument against access to abortion. And as an academic, I find the false equivalence intellectually lazy. If you thought critically even just for a few moments about the issues, it becomes readily apparent that…

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Michele Merritt

Philosophy professor. Adoptee. Advocate. Activist. Marathon swimmer. Cheese consumer. I write about dogs a lot. michelemerritt.com