Adoption decisions among women denied abortion

A new analysis of the Turnaway Study provides an unprecedented look at how women denied abortion weigh adoption as an alternative. Opponents of abortion often portray adoption as an equally desirable and viable alternative to abortion, but this study paints a very different picture.

Of the 231 women in the Turnaway Study that were denied a wanted abortion, only 9 percent chose adoption—the rest decided to parent their child. It is telling that, among this group of women highly motivated to avoid parenting, 91 percent chose to do so anyway. They clearly saw abortion and parenting as their primary options, with adoption as a distant and far less favorable third.

Nationwide, only about 1% of infants are put up for adoption. The fact that the prevalence of adoption was much higher (9%) among women denied abortion suggests that adoption only becomes more popular as women’s options become more restricted. Even then, women see it as a less preferable alternative.

Anti-abortion advocates have fought hard to pass laws and fund programs that aggressively push adoption as an alternative to abortion. This study emphasizes just how divorced from the reality of women’s actual preferences and decision-making processes those efforts are.