The Anti-Choice Movement’s Conflict of Interest

As is often the case, when I started the research for this post I was headed in an entirely different direction.  I had just finished reading The Family and was intrigued by a possible connection between The Family and Abstinence Clearinghouse.  As I researched Abstinence Clearinghouse I found a connection to Alpha Center, a crisis pregnancy center.  I  discovered a thread of  self- serving ideas and organizations espousing the anti-abortion, anti-birth control and pro-abstinence positions as spiritual ideology.   But I came to the conclusion those spiritual beliefs might not be entirely pure or free from other less spiritual motivations. Those very ideologies provide large Christian adoption agencies with a very lucrative product and  the Christian community with the foot soldiers it desires for it’s spiritual war.

I also found that tax dollars are paying the salary of Leslee Unruh, the founder of not just Abstinence Clearinghouse but also the Alpha center….a crisis pregnancy center.  Tax dollars are in fact paying  abortion protesters – something I find odd and unacceptable considering abortion  is a legal medical procedure in this country.

Tax Dollars Paying for Anti-Abortion Activities

In July 2006, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the IRS against both the Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center alleging that they violated federal law by not disclosing lobbying activities, including advocating against abortion, lobbying for increased abstinence funding and publicly endorsing the school board candidacy of a Clearinghouse and Alpha Center board member. (Leslee) Unruh is also involved in South Dakota anti-abortion politics. Unruh heads Vote Yes for Life, an organization that campaigns in support of the state abortion ban. Her husband Alan, who is also a director of both the Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center, served on the controversial South Dakota legislative task force that preceded the ban.


Prior to starting the Clearinghouse, Unruh founded the Alpha Center, a crisis pregnancy center, which is currently the recipient of a 3-year, $294,962 federal abstinence-only grant.  SOURCE

Why is a woman who pleaded guilty to five counts of unlicensed adoption and foster care practices still receiving government contract money?

In 1984 Leslee Unruh, founder of Abstinence Clearinghouse, established a CPC in South Dakota called the Alpha Center. The first center had opened in 1967, but in 1984 Unruh’s CPC was still a relatively new idea. In 1987 the state attorney’s office investigated complaints that Unruh had offered young women money to carry their pregnancies to term and then relinquish their babies for adoption.

“There were so many allegations about improper adoptions being made and how teenage girls were being pressured to give up their children,” then-state attorney Tim Wilka told the Argus Leader, that the governor asked him to take the case. The Alpha Center pleaded no contest to five counts of unlicensed adoption and foster care practices; nineteen other charges were dropped, including four felonies. But where Unruh left off, many CPCs and antiabortion groups have taken up in her place. SOURCE

Conflict of Interest

Yes, I think that the opposition to abortion and birth control goes far beyond just a spiritual belief, I think there is an extreme conflict of interest as many of the opponents of abortion and birth control have a vested interest in adoption agencies.  And that includes the Catholic Church.  All one has to do is Google “Catholic Adoption Agencies” to see that there are plenty of websites touting Catholic adoptions … even asking readers to donate money via Ebay.

In 2007, a congressionally ordered 10-year study of four popular abstinence-education curricula found they had no effect on the age when young people started having sex. Seventeen states have decided to reject abstinence-only education grants.  SOURCE

One thing we do know is abstinence only programs aren’t particularly effective, so why then do so many of those who say they want to abolish abortion continue to support a position that is anti-birth control?  Is it their belief that women will cease to have sex outside of marriage and a desire to give birth?  Or is it a convenient conflict of interest?  First, take away birth control creating more unwanted pregnancies and then abolish abortion, creating more product?   Surely, they aren’t’ so naive as to believe that a lack of birth control and abortion will somehow cause women to cease having sex.  So, what is the goal?

It would be easy to write these people off as stupid, but I don’t believe they are stupid….I believe they have their own agenda that has little to do with spiritual matters.   It has been estimated that the number of domestic infant adoptions fell from a high in 1970 of 175,000 to 22,000 in 2002. ¹ The decline became quite dramatic within a few years of the passage of Roe v. Wade.  No birth control + no abortion = more babies for adoption.  More babies for adoption mean more money for adoption agencies, and have no doubt about it, most of the crisis pregnancy centers push for one outcome and that is adoption, adoptions that provide them with income and Christian couples with babies.

Bethany Christian Services

Another large adoption center, Bethany Christian Services, has come under a good bit of fire for it’s adoption policies:

Bethany Christian Services is the Wal-mart of adoption agencies, the one-stop shop for all Christian child placement services.

For pregnant women seeking help, this one-stop shop is in many ways also a one-way ticket towards adoption, that eventually leads to the relinquishment of a child and to the permanent placement of that newborn with a Bethany approved Christian family.

When facing pregnancy there are in principle three options: parenting, having an abortion, relinquishing the child for adoption. Of these three options, Bethany Christian Services and its supplying network of pregnancy counseling centers, abortion is simply not an option, and parenting is often strongly discouraged. Through the tactics of moralistic and financial pressure, women are effectively coerced into choosing adoption, thereby artificially creating “orphans” for Christian couples to adopt.

The creation of “orphans” and the constant inflation of the meaning of the word “orphan” to enlarge the pool of adoptable children, is part and parcel of the Christian adoption wave that has been rolling over the United States in the last decade. Bethany Christian Service is at the epicenter of this movement. It is the most prominent member of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and despite it’s deceptive name, nothing more than a membership organization of Christian adoption agencies, with an influential voice in Washington DC.

Bethany Christian Services is also a prominent member of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, a coalition of Christian adoption agencies, foster care agencies, orphan care organizations and churches, supported by Campus Crusade for Christ and Focus on the Family. The Christian Alliance for Orphans and its programs Hope for orphans, Faces of the Forgotten, Cry of the Orphan and Orphan Sundays, aggressively market adoption through churches. Bethany Christian Services plays a major role in this movement, sponsoring training sessions to further spread the adoption gospel, motivating Christians to not only adopt children, but to adopt as many children as possible. SOURCE

Taxpayer Funds and Crisis Pregnancy Centers

A few weeks ago, Broadsheet commented on a scary Washington Post article about how so-called pregnancy resource centers have received more than $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs from the Bush administration. The article also found that more than a third of the funding under the auspices of “faith-based initiatives” is going to these bogus health organizations, which often advertise under “abortion services” in the Yellow Pages.

Today, Broadsheet received a press release from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., with even more troubling news about these centers. The release, titled “Federally Funded Pregnancy Resource Centers Mislead Teens About Abortion Risks,” reports that a new study sponsored by Rep. Waxman found that investigators who called federally funded centers posing as pregnant 17-year-olds were provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion, including that abortion leads to breast cancer, infertility and mental illness.

Millions in grants for programs that have been found to falsely advertise and mislead young women about the effects of abortion…..amazing and unconscionable.   I would be willing to bet that they never mentioned the health effects of adoption.

The Emotional Distress of Adoption

As I did the research I found a pressing issue that is seldom discussed, especially by the anti-abortion people who like to tout how emotionally damaging abortion is to the woman.  But what about the emotional impact of adoption on the woman?  There is a attitude that prevails that women are so much better off carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and giving up the baby for adoption, but is that reality?

The issues hits close to home to me, as a have a niece who was forced by her mother to give a baby up for adoption.  Even years later, as a married woman and mother of 5, she struggles with the reality of having a child she does not know.  She was given no choice, no option, and she suffers emotionally until this day.  And she isn’t the only one.

We like to say that abortion opponents care about what happens to babies only until they’re born. Well, turns out we might be wrong. In many cases they do care what happens post-partum — far, far too much. In “Shotgun Adoption,” a truly chilling investigative report in the current issue of the Nation, “Quiverfull” author Kathryn Joyce reveals that so-called (and taxpayer-funded) crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) often have an extreme-Christian agenda even more corrupt than using false pretenses and scare tactics to pressure women to continue challenging pregnancies. That is: They don’t just coerce women to have children. They coerce women to give their children up.

Give the children up, that is, so that they can grow up in a “good” Christian family.SOURCE


“Existing evidence suggests that the experience of relinquishment renders a woman at high risk of psychological (and possibly physical) disability. Moreover very recent research indicates that actual disability or vulnerability may not diminish even decades after the event.
….Taken overall, the evidence suggests that over half of these women are suffering from severe and disabling grief reactions which are not resolved over the passage of time and which manifest predominantly as depression and psychosomatic illness.
– PSYCHOLOGICAL DISABILITY IN WOMEN WHO RELINQUISH A BABY FOR ADOPTION, Dr. John T. Condon (Medical Journal of Australia) Vol. 144 Feb 3, 1986 (Department of Psychiatry, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Consultant Psychiatrist)SOURCE

Relinquishing mothers have more grief symptoms than women who have lost a child to death, including more denial; despair, atypical responses; and disturbances in sleep, appetite, and vigor.” Askren, H., & Bloom, K. (1999) Post-adoptive reactions of the relinquishing mother: A review. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing, 1999 Jul-Aug; 28(4) SOURCE

Needy Children or Needy Parents?

” Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year, seeking babies for adoption and charging prospective parents enormous fees to process paperwork. The problems surrounding many intercountry adoptions in which children are taken from poor families in undeveloped countries and given to parents in developed countries, have become quite well known, but the Special Rapporteur was alarmed to hear of certain practices within developed countries, including the use of fraud and coercion to persuade single mothers to give up their children.”
–United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003.  SOURCE

As I said at the beginning of this post, this is not the path I intended to take in my research, but it is the path that seemed to demand my attention as I recalled conversations with my niece who relinquished a child for adoption.  I only wish I had had a better understanding of her situation at the time.

One thing I’ve noticed is that those who yell the loudest about how moral they are seldom are.  And rarely is any issue black or white, nor are there easy answers to complex issues such as abortion and adoption.  What I do believe is that  adoption comes with as large or larger emotional price tag as abortion, and no one solution to an unwanted pregnancy is right for all women.  That’s why I support a woman’s right to choose, as I think that only the women who face an unwanted pregnancy  know what is best for them.  I respect women as having the intelligence and capability to make those decisions without coercion and judgmentalism.

“Adoption was created so that children without homes could be provided with one. NOT, so that barren couples could be provided babys
[sic] at anyones [sic] expense!” Jennifer Granholm     SOURCE

I intend this to be the first in a series of posts as there are many layers to the issue.
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4 Responses to The Anti-Choice Movement’s Conflict of Interest

  1. timesr says:

    Interesting. A friend got pregnant when she was 15. At the time she was attending a Catholic girls high school. The school’s position was that she could remain in school if she agreed to give the baby up for adoption, but if she chose to keep her baby, or have an abortion, she’d have to leave.

    (she and her boyfriend got married despite opposition from everyone, finished high school then college and are still happily married 36 years later)

  2. Funny you assert that pro-life protesters get paid. I’ve been protesting for decades and have yet to be reimbursed. Please tell me where I can apply for the money I’m owed.

    Sage Reply:

    Did you miss the point on purpose?

  3. Sage says:

    I can’t believe you really don’t get it. I never implied all protesters were paid. It is the organizers who are receiving taxpayer money.

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