In addition to being a writer on sustainability and water issues, Susette has been driving a school bus for special needs kids for 7 years.
The Ongoing Debate
There are at least two schools of thought about abortion bans that the media has currently pitted against each other and political candidates are using to attract voters. Each side has its vocal supporters, including religious leaders. Each of them is right in some ways and wrong in others.
- One side says that women are in charge of their own bodies. That abortions are last ditch tools women use for family planning, when other methods of contraception didn't work or their health is at stake.
- The other says that fetuses are already babies, whose lives are as important as the life of the mother, and the woman has no right to do anything but bear them and deal with the consequences—both to them AND their families.
But I seldom hear about what happens to those babies once they're born, other than the few that are given up for adoption. Nobody talks about how the child knows intuitively whether it's welcome or not, and what that does to its psyche, especially if it has been born with physical or mental problems.
Nobody talks about babies born to mothers who are addicted to drugs or who suffer violence in the home that they know will affect the child. Nobody talks about the child born to a pre-teen rape victim who has no idea how to raise that child. And nobody wants to believe that a child, whose birth they sponsored with an abortion ban, could end up in a dangerous situation like child trafficking.
Although at first it may seem like an obscure connection between abortion bans and child trafficking, once you really look into it, it becomes clear that it's not obscure at all—it's a direct conduit. Children who have to raise themselves are the ones traffickers look for.
Driving for Special Needs Kids
In addition to writing, I drive a school bus for special needs kids, most of whom are children at risk. They come from families who don't have much money, or whose fathers (and/or mothers) are in and out of jail, or who are in foster care or group homes. These are the families that are hurt most by abortion bans.
In my last group of schoolchildren, there was a girl who looked like she could be a victim of (or rescue from) sex trafficking. She was 13, held her body stiff, hardly spoke, wouldn't look you in the eye.
In the same group was a 12-year-old boy who had been rescued from dumpster diving for food when he was four, and later adopted by the foster parents who helped with his rescue. He and his autistic older brother are now in good hands, but that's not usual. Here's what usually happens.
[This article is long, but it's critical to know. Please take the time to find a quiet place where you can focus.]
Women Who Need Abortion Services
In 2020, there were 930,160 abortions in the United States. This included girls and women of all classes and races who were having problems with their pregnancies, or who knew they could not raise a healthy child. Here are some of the circumstances faced by the 930,000 above:
- Men in the house who were physically and/or sexually abusive to the woman and/or existing children, including rape.
- A mother who was dealing with abandonment by a partner who had recently been arrested or left for parts unknown.
- A seriously ailing grandparent or other child, who needed constant attention.
- Parents who couldn't be home taking care of a family, who didn't have enough money to hire someone to help, so they could work two or three jobs.
- A college girl with a boyfriend who lied when he said he'd used a condom. If she didn't get an abortion, she would lose her future, and the respect of her friends and family (not to mention her loser boyfriend).
- A growing embryo that was exposed via ultrasound with major complications.
These are only some of the emergencies women get hit with. Unfortunately, no matter how much we would wish to will them away, situations like these were experienced by all of those 930,000+ women who got abortions in 2020. Abortion bans take control away from women in times of emergency, when they need it most.
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What an Abortion Ban Means
"People with very few resources and those who are already marginalized bear the brunt of abortion bans and other restrictive policies," according to this report by the primary U.S. adoption research facility, Guttmacher Institute.
Depending on how restrictive it is, an abortion ban could stop a woman from getting an abortion for any reason, except if the life of the mother or fetus were threatened.
- The emotional or financial well-being of the family would not count, even when the home is not safe.
- Just a very small percentage of women needing abortions would be granted them and, in some states, physicians would be imprisoned and their medical licenses stripped away if they performed an abortion (or even be accused of one).
- For fear of being misrepresented and arrested, physicians would stop performing any common procedure that could look like an abortion, including helping a woman who was hemorrhaging.
- Those women who find themselves disruptively pregnant or whose pregnancies go wrong, and who have money (or can borrow it), will leave the state to get an abortion elsewhere. My neighbor's niece was one of those. She and her husband, excited about their upcoming baby, discovered through an ultrasound that the baby would be born with multiple disfigurements—including lack of a proper head. After painful soul-searching, she traveled from Arizona to California to stay with her aunt and get an abortion.
Those who can't afford to travel or don't have family support will have to go through with the pregnancy. That means that approximately 930,000 families would birth a child they couldn't support. The percentage of women who would keep the baby hovers around 90%, whereas 10% know right away that there's no way they could keep it. That's 93,000 babies whose mothers will be looking for adoptive parents.
Naturally the mothers who keep their newborns will turn their attention to the baby, worrying about how they're going to feed and dress it with the little money they have, and they'll let the older children fend for themselves. The older children will gradually start feeling replaced and unwanted, and will start looking for attention elsewhere—becoming vulnerable to outsiders who are seeking to connect with kids like them.
Abortion Ban to Safe, Nurturing Home
The image many pro-ban people have in their minds, when they think of women being forced to carry babies to term, is that of the woman suddenly feeling the God-given warmth of motherhood coming over them at birth, and an overwhelming need to nurture and care for this new young one. But that's a myth.
Women who have a safe, nurturing home to provide a child are not the ones seeking abortions. It's the women who get pushed into pregnancy when they can't provide a nurturing home that seek abortions—the ones who know they will wreck a child's life, no matter how hard they try.
Most women want to be proud of their children and of themselves too. So do men. But sometimes the prospective parents are too beset by fears, worries, and unhealthy practices of their own to deal with bringing a new life into the world at that time.
Contraception and abortion services allow parents time to work out their own issues, so they can eventually provide warm and nurturing homes. We all know at least one woman who has been in a position like that, whether or not they've let on.
Abortion Ban to Adoption
The favored solution (of pro-life people) to a woman becoming pregnant in a difficult situation is to carry the baby to term and put it up for adoption. Let's look at that.
According to statistics put out by California's Adoption Network 140,000 families per year currently adopt children in the United States, 62% of which are placed within a month of being born. The rest go into the foster care system to be raised by a foster parent, until someone comes along who wants them. Those are current statistics, before the enactment of abortion bans.
If an additional 93,000 babies were to enter the system because of a national abortion ban, it would give more choices to those who want to adopt, but a good number of newborns would also be added to the foster care system, which is already overloaded.
Meanwhile, what happens if adoptive parents decide they don't want their child after all? There's a practice called "rehoming" that now applies to children, as well as animals.
Rehoming adopted children: Although rehoming works for some kids, without screening procedures, other kids end up with parents who are not safe to be around.
Adoptions From Foster Care
A 2007 Los Angeles Times article noted that 90% of adoptions in New York City came through the foster care system, not through adoption agencies. That's not what foster care systems were set up for, but now they're doing it in addition to their normal activities:
- Researching complaints about children being neglected or abused
- Finding temporary housing for children in trouble
- Retraining original families to be better parents
- Following up, once the children are returned home, until the family is secure again
- Searching for and training potential foster parents
- Searching for adoptive parents and arranging for the transfer
With only minimal support from society, the foster care system is overloaded with too many children, too few caseworkers, too few families wanting to adopt, and too few families wanting to be foster parents. Increasing poverty is making the situation worse.
In the U.S. foster care system, approximately 122,000 kids qualify to be adopted, according to U.S. Dept of Health statistics, with the remainder being returned to their families. However, the CA Adoption Network says that only around 50,000 kids are actually being adopted from foster care per year. Now add the 93,000 new babies born into families who can't support them, and what happens to them?
Being a foster care child: Neighbors and teachers can call children's services if they see evidence of neglect in a child's home. It happens often. The vulnerability a child feels, both in their birth home and their foster home, will send them searching for someone to help them feel safe. That's what traffickers look for.
Foster Care to Child Sex Trafficking
Those children who are not adopted or returned to their birth families languish in the system—schlepped from foster home to foster home—and when they turn 18 they're cast out onto the streets without adequate training for survival and no one they're bonded to.
These young women and the children not yet of age are prime targets for sex traffickers. In fact, officials who deal with child sex-trafficking have calculated that 80% of trafficked victims came originally through the foster care system.
Abortion ban proponents don't aim for this to happen, but it will anyway. Because this is how U.S. society currently operates, and will continue to, until we pay attention to the plight of mothers who are struggling, and start providing the services they so desperately need to get out of the fix they're in.
Needless to say, forcing women and girls to have even more children within such a dysfunctional system is not healthy for them or society.
Most of [Jeffrey Epstein's] girls came from disadvantaged families, single-parent homes or foster care. Some had [already] experienced troubles that belied their ages.
— Julie Brown, Miami Herald Reporter
What happens to youth in the foster care system? Social workers are handling up to 90 cases per worker. This is untenable. We need to become a society that cares about all children, not just our own.
Recruiting Kids Who Are Homeless
The World Childhood Foundation's website says that there are currently 1.6 million homeless and runaway youths in the United States. That's one in every 45 children. Some are with parents, some are not.
Once on the street, it takes only 24–36 hours for a trafficker to find and solicit children for sex in exchange for food or shelter. This is kids born in the United States from all social strata, all genders and shades of color, all ages—kids who are lonely and unattached.
(Note: Kids being trafficked over the border is a whole different situation not caused by abortion bans, hence not covered here.)
The Story of a Victim
Recruiting Children Into Sex Trafficking
Recruiters go wherever they can find a child who feels desperate or unwanted at home. This can be low income homes or rich kids' homes, where the parents are off working or partying and not paying attention to their children's needs. It can be children of any color or age, with the favorite age being 12-14 years old and the favorite gender being female.
- Traffickers make an average of $50,000–$55,000 per child per week. This form of direct, untaxed income is not something they will easily toss aside out of the goodness of their hearts.
- Buyers abound everywhere. They come from all levels of society (as we know with the Epstein case), and look for all kinds of girls. They advertise their presence online—"businessman in town looking for company"—and are willing to pay more, if a little (or a lot of) violence is included.
- Until recently, sex trafficking victims (mostly women and girls) were arrested as criminals. Arresting them did nothing to stop the problem. Arresting traffickers did nothing to stop the problem either.
- Most enforcement agencies still do nothing to stop or expose the customers/buyers, although with the right kind of sting operation, they could acquire lists of buyers to post online.
The trouble is that where traffickers and sex customers can both benefit from trafficking and can usually avoid retribution, their victims have to bear the long-term negative effects of being trafficked—including rape, brutality, drug addiction, and pregnancy within an ugly profession.
Once in it, girls usually last only seven years before they die of abuse and/or self-neglect. Again, the welfare of a woman is being sacrificed for the benefit of men.
Out of the Darkness
Some traffickers see themselves as nice guys. If they don't want to admit to what they're really doing, they might take on a partner and let the partner do the dirty work. The thriller Out of the Darkness by Robin Magaddino shows what such a partnership might look like.
In the story, Ms. Magaddino describes the recruitment of a teenage girl, how and where she's taken to serve—a "man camp" in the fossil fuels industry—and how she gets out of it, keeping you on the edge of your seat the whole time.
There are many types and ways of recruitment, all of them targeting kids like those I transport. The ultimate goal is for traffickers to make money by providing a service that buyers are looking for. And the girls are the goods.
Fun fact: The four top donors to Texas Right to Life (anti-abortion group) are from the fossil fuels industry.
Sex Trafficking in the United States: An Underground Business
The sin to me is bringing a child into this world and not taking care of them. When the child is born and we know that mother...cannot take care of that child, we don't provide any support systems for that mother.
— Linda Coleman-Madison, Alabama state senator
Alternatives to Abortion Bans
Abortion bans are a "solution" (for some people) that cause more problems in the end than they resolve—for mothers, children, and society. Rather than pulling out the whip of a punitive abortion ban, what can you do, personally, to help society be more helpful to women in trouble? Start from where you are, with your skills, your friends, and the needs of your neighborhood.
- Do you teach? Can you develop a class that trains boys and girls in high school on what it takes to raise a family, so they can make better decisions upfront?
- Could you set up or support a child care facility for working mothers, so they could work outside the home to earn enough for the family's basic needs? There's government help for this and good directions here.
- If you're at all politically active, you could advocate for paid parental leave and child tax credits. Both are government actions that would help parents take time they need to nurse their kids when sick, or claim tax deductions if their income is low.
- Make sure your husband (or you, if you're male) is not taking advantage of child sex victims himself. Reducing demand can help to reduce the need for supply.
- If you can't adopt a baby, try becoming a foster parent instead. Encourage your friends, as well. Here's how to do that in California. Or get a degree and go into social work yourself.
Babies are Powerful Souls
When you get right down to it, although you may want to say it's all about the babies, it isn't. It's all about the women—the prospective mothers. They're the ones who do the work. They're the ones who are made pregnant (often when they don't want to be), who raise the burgeoning embryo as it becomes a baby, who go through the birth process, and then nurture the baby until the child grows into a young adult.
When a prospective mother knows that now is not the time or place to bear a child, is it really a good idea to force it? Now that you can see what is most likely to happen to that child, wouldn't it have been better for it not to have been born to someone who didn't have the means to care for it?
Babies are powerful souls who can make choices in their soul state. If one family decides it's a no go, that soul can choose another family or another time, and will keep choosing until it finds the right one. If, instead, a woman is forced to have a child she knows she can't handle, then the newborn soul has to go through trauma that wasn't necessary, and that often turns into active abuse.
No parent, no lawmaker, should close their eyes to the fact that abuse is happening all over the country, all of the time.
Hopefully, if you are someone who supports abortion bans, this article has given you something to think about. What would you do if you were born into a dysfunctional family against the will of your mother, and then ended up as someone's sex slave? As you can see, there's a lot more to abortion bans than meets the simplistic eye.
One last video. This young lady was raised by a caring, single mom and still she was trafficked. But because she felt wanted, she had the confidence to avoid getting sucked in. Here's how she explains the trafficker's attempt to recruit her.
Trust Your Gut
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.