The Tragedy of the Unwanted Child: What Ancient Cultures Did Before Abortion

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Good piece here.

Some good arguments for the utility of abortion... the alternatives are often quite a bit worse. (Arguments largely from a historical & evolutionary perspective)


According to infanticide researchers Susan Hatters Friedman and Phillip J. Reznick, “the day during which a person is at greatest risk of homicide is the first day of life.” Neonaticide, the killing of infants soon after birth, might sound like a rare crime committed by the occasional deranged adult, but the reality is more disturbing. In every society, contemporary and historic, for which adequate accounts exist, infants have been killed or abandoned to die. And not just the occasional infant here or there. By some estimates, as many as 10 to 15 percent of newborns throughout history have been killed.

Before the 1970s, scholars usually explained high historic levels of infanticide as somehow serving societies. They posited that the Carthaginian enthusiasm for child sacrifice, Plato’s eugenic advice that inferior Athenian parents “expose” their newborns to the elements, and countless other examples somehow aided social cohesion. And yet humanity’s high levels of neonaticide and infant abandonment long predates the philosophic and religious beliefs that provided cultural cover for infanticide. It long precedes the invention of those religions that now condemn abortion and even the rise of those societies that invented the philosophies and religions. The ancient capacity for infanticide needs a proper explanation that begins with the motives of those individuals who kill or abandon their young.

Abortion isn’t a modern invention. Botanical abortifacients of variable efficacy were available in many ancient societies. Women in many traditional societies also have ways of aborting a pregnancy. But they are so unsafe that mothers more often find neonaticide a better option. As Hrdy puts it:

Almost all infanticide in traditional societies occurs right after birth, and is conceptually identical to late-stage abortion. Neonaticide is favoured over abortion simply because infanticide is safer for the mother … The situation is reversed for Western medicine. Abortion – especially in early stages of pregnancy – is safer for the mother than giving birth is. No one with other options chooses infanticide.
Safe abortion, then, is the modern cure for the ancient heartbreaks of neonaticide and abandonment. The circumstances that predict abortion rates in contemporary societies are the same as those that led mothers to abandon, neglect, or kill their newborn infants throughout history and deep into humanity’s evolutionary past.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reporting on legal abortion in the USA reveals that, by far, the highest ratio of aborted pregnancies to live births (the abortion ratio) occurs in teenagers. In 2019, the abortion ratio was 873 per 1,000 live births among those younger than 15 and 348 per 1,000 in those 15 to 19. This number declines steadily until the 30–34 age group in which only 132 pregnancies were terminated for every 1,000 live births.

Few 13-year-olds, their whole adult lives ahead of them, wish to become mothers. Girls that young seldom get pregnant in hunter-gatherer societies, where food is hard to come by and it takes longer to accumulate enough body fat to become fertile. Most young teens are psychologically unready to become mothers, and societies now recognise this in age-of-consent laws.

Anti-abortion campaigners overlook the crucial fact that safe and legal abortion provides far and away the most successful solution to the longstanding historic problems of neonaticide, infant abandonment, and neglect. If they are not available legally, women will seek illegal abortions, which are far less safe. Each year, an estimated 68,000 women and girls die and seven million women are treated for complications, many suffering permanent disability, due to illegal abortions.
 
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Tenacious E

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Good piece here.

Some good arguments for the utility of abortion... the alternatives are often quite a bit worse. (Arguments largely from a historical & evolutionary perspective)

We live in the United States of America, not in an ancient Cathaginian village. If we are looking at this in pure transactional or utilitarian terms, if we grant people unfettered access to abortions to ease the financial burden of a child, then I guess people keeping the baby are signaling they don’t need the financial parachute, and we can we get rid of welfare and other governmental programs assisting young mothers (not that I actually advocate that).
 

HawkPT

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I feel for all of the disabled kids, all of the foster kids, and all of the kids in poverty who are used as the justification for unlimited abortions. What must it feel like for them to hear that their existence is enough for adults and politicians to argue for abortion so that others will not be in their positions in the future?
 

InsaneHawkJJP

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I feel for all of the disabled kids, all of the foster kids, and all of the kids in poverty who are used as the justification for unlimited abortions. What must it feel like for them to hear that their existence is enough for adults and politicians to argue for abortion so that others will not be in their positions in the future?
How do you feel about all of the potential dumpster babies and other future abandoned children? Do you thinks it’s better to die after being born? It’s a horrible situation anyway you look at it, but it should still be an option to have an abortion.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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How do you feel about all of the potential dumpster babies and other future abandoned children? Do you thinks it’s better to die after being born? It’s a horrible situation anyway you look at it, but it should still be an option to have an abortion.

I feel that maybe humanity should have moved on from such barbaric cruelty on both counts.


The ancients used to kill or abandon unwanted infants. . . Yeah and they also used to cut off the hands of people for stealing a loaf of bread or cut out the tongues of people who didn't like their political leadership.

Maybe there are some things that modern humans could move on from. Other solutions to the problem of unwanted children then "kill em".
 

Aardvark86

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I feel for all of the disabled kids, all of the foster kids, and all of the kids in poverty who are used as the justification for unlimited abortions. What must it feel like for them to hear that their existence is enough for adults and politicians to argue for abortion so that others will not be in their positions in the future?
As one who was adopted, I'd think that perhaps the answer is "happy to be here" and perhaps even "hopeful"?
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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How do you feel about all of the potential dumpster babies and other future abandoned children? Do you thinks it’s better to die after being born? It’s a horrible situation anyway you look at it, but it should still be an option to have an abortion.
I agree....but some of the rhetoric is concerning.

I was apparently a mistake.

Mom let that slip after a few glasses of wine :)

My older brother died 2 weeks after birth,,,,,pretty traumatic for my Parents obviously.

I was born 11 months later. They apparently were using condom's (TMI) What a weird unwanted conversation that was...thanks Mom.

Anyway, they weren't ready for another child but I showed up.

Glad I did...but they weren't ready. Pretty happy I wasn't aborted.
 

Joes Place

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Good piece here.

Some good arguments for the utility of abortion... the alternatives are often quite a bit worse. (Arguments largely from a historical & evolutionary perspective)


Pre-medical cultures (barely 100 years ago), people just died in childbirth from things that are now fully preventable with abortions.

And that's what is going to happen. Already cancer patients who cannot get chemo until they've had an abortion, and they are having to travel out of state to get one before they can start cancer therapy.

Imagine having a couple kids already, getting diagnosed with Stage III/IV breast cancer and finding out you are pregnant. You have to leave your kids for a few days and delay your cancer care. Because why? Standard of Care is to get an abortion immediately to treat your cancer ASAP and maximize your survival odds. Instead, kids will be left orphans because "we have to save the babies" bullshit.
 

Titanhawk2

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How do you feel about all of the potential dumpster babies and other future abandoned children? Do you thinks it’s better to die after being born? It’s a horrible situation anyway you look at it, but it should still be an option to have an abortion.
We all die after being born. Many believe it is better to have the chance to live before the inevitable happens rather than have someone else decide you shouldn't have that chance.
 

Moral

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I feel for all of the disabled kids, all of the foster kids, and all of the kids in poverty who are used as the justification for unlimited abortions. What must it feel like for them to hear that their existence is enough for adults and politicians to argue for abortion so that others will not be in their positions in the future?

Virtue signaling game is strong.
 

Tenacious E

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As one who was adopted, I'd think that perhaps the answer is "happy to be here" and perhaps even "hopeful"?
My older brother and I were both adopted as well (different mothers and states), and I am not ashamed to admit it shapes my views on the topic. He's an ivy league grad worth millions, and I haven't done badly either.
 

Keehawk

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How do you feel about all of the potential dumpster babies and other future abandoned children? Do you thinks it’s better to die after being born? It’s a horrible situation anyway you look at it, but it should still be an option to have an abortion.
I think this is the same as the train on the track heading towards one person or ten people. It's better to save the lives of ten people.
 

Aardvark86

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My older brother and I were both adopted as well (different mothers and states), and I am not ashamed to admit it shapes my views on the topic. He's an ivy league grad worth millions, and I haven't done badly either.
Perhaps curiously, it actually doesn't shape my views here very much. But I'm not a particularly big fan of the born-but-unadopted being used as rhetorical tools in ways that overlook some fairly glaring and important counterpoints.
 
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Tenacious E

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Perhaps curiously, it actually doesn't shape my views here very much. But I'm not a particularly big fan of the born-but-unadopted being used as rhetorical tools in ways that overlook some fairly glaring and important counterpoints.
For me it greatly shapes my view. I am a mostly socially liberal agnostic who likes to think of himself as typically advocating for the rights of the helpless. I was helpless when conceived and I appreciate that I was helped and not terminated.
 

Aardvark86

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For me it greatly shapes my view. I am a mostly socially liberal agnostic who likes to think of himself as typically advocating for the rights of the helpless. I was helpless when conceived and I appreciate that I was helped and not terminated.
For me, it's typically as simple as Nat Hentoff's old line: "It ain't a rhinoceros."

Incidentally, on that front, whenever i hear the "just a blob of cells" line of thinking, I can't help but recall the old Star Trek episode when the supposedly "higher" noncorporal life form referred to Capt. Kirk and the rest of the adult crew of the Enterprise as "ugly bags of mostly water."
 
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HawkPT

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How do you feel about all of the potential dumpster babies and other future abandoned children? Do you thinks it’s better to die after being born? It’s a horrible situation anyway you look at it, but it should still be an option to have an abortion.
100% of children dying is worse than .01% of them dying, and I'm appalled that I even have to point that out. It's mind bottling.
 
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HawkPT

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Virtue signaling game is strong.
We adopted my middle child as an infant. He was born to a 14-year-old girl who was raped. She chose life, and my family and I have been greatly blessed by her sacrifice. She chose life for him over convenience and the avoidance of shame and pain for herself, and my son's existence will be a blessing for his future children and his children's children for generations to come. But sure, you can call it a virtue signal if that prevents you from actually defending your stance on abortion or providing opportunities for the less fortunate who are born into difficult life situations, which seems to be a better alternative than killing tiny unborn humans.

You should read Malcolm Gladwell's book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. What many view as major disadvantages are at times the fuel needed to produce unparalleled success, something that has been proven true by many over the course of time.
 

MitchLL

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I feel for all of the disabled kids, all of the foster kids, and all of the kids in poverty who are used as the justification for unlimited abortions. What must it feel like for them to hear that their existence is enough for adults and politicians to argue for abortion so that others will not be in their positions in the future?
And yet.. the Radical Right will scream about welfare recipients and there's no doubt there will be increases in that realm.

And it won't all be inner city families affected. Those white trash people South of the Mason/Dixon line will have their hands out.
 
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Moral

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We adopted my middle child as an infant. He was born to a 14-year-old girl who was raped. She chose life, and my family and I have been greatly blessed by her sacrifice. She chose life for him over convenience and the avoidance of shame and pain for herself, and my son's existence will be a blessing for his future children and his children's children for generations to come. But sure, you can call it a virtue signal if that prevents you from actually defending your stance on abortion or providing opportunities for the less fortunate who are born into difficult life situations, which seems to be a better alternative than killing tiny unborn humans.

You should read Malcolm Gladwell's book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. What many view as major disadvantages are at times the fuel needed to produce unparalleled success, something that has been proven true by many over the course of time.

Good on you, but you should also recognize your own bias, the lense in which you see the issue, and respect that other people may or may not have those and also don’t need people in their business.
 

Aardvark86

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And yet.. the Radical Right will scream about welfare recipients and there's no doubt there will be increases in that realm.

And it won't all be inner city families affected. Those white trash people South of the Mason/Dixon line will have their hands out.
Marylanders?
 

HawkPT

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Good on you, but you should also recognize your own bias, the lense in which you see the issue, and respect that other people may or may not have those and also don’t need people in their business.
I recognize that while being an ambassador for the unborn... the most vulnerable and voiceless. I can recognize that and respect it, but that doesn't mean that I must be silent and let culture move on without my involvement in it. I would imagine that those tiny humans appreciate that there are some people in their business.

I don't deny that I have a bias, nor do I deny that my abortion beliefs are influenced by the fact that I am a Christian and believe in the Bible as the Holy Word of God. I get that this is not accepted by everyone (and in fact a progressively shrinking number), but that lighthouse is much more reliable than trying to fashion cultural norms and social mores according to evolving humanistic beliefs that share commonalities but are significantly different across the board.
 

Moral

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I recognize that while being an ambassador for the unborn... the most vulnerable and voiceless. I can recognize that and respect it, but that doesn't mean that I must be silent and let culture move on without my involvement in it. I would imagine that those tiny humans appreciate that there are some people in their business.

I don't deny that I have a bias, nor do I deny that my abortion beliefs are influenced by the fact that I am a Christian and believe in the Bible as the Holy Word of God. I get that this is not accepted by everyone (and in fact a progressively shrinking number), but that lighthouse is much more reliable than trying to fashion cultural norms and social mores according to evolving humanistic beliefs that share commonalities but are significantly different across the board.

I think that is fair enough. We will just respectfully agree to disagree.
 
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RileyHawk

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I recognize that while being an ambassador for the unborn... the most vulnerable and voiceless. I can recognize that and respect it, but that doesn't mean that I must be silent and let culture move on without my involvement in it. I would imagine that those tiny humans appreciate that there are some people in their business.

I don't deny that I have a bias, nor do I deny that my abortion beliefs are influenced by the fact that I am a Christian and believe in the Bible as the Holy Word of God. I get that this is not accepted by everyone (and in fact a progressively shrinking number), but that lighthouse is much more reliable than trying to fashion cultural norms and social mores according to evolving humanistic beliefs that share commonalities but are significantly different across the board.
Are you also strongly advocating for more welfare funding, childcare funding, making adoptions of foreign babies illegal, funding programs to adopt and care for minorities and disabled children, widespread availability of free contraception, to name a few?

The HUGE disconnect is that those of you who want to force people to have babies have no interest in supporting them after they are born. Those on here who were adopted were, in large part, because they were healthy and not black. You won the adoption lottery. Far too many others don't.

I could get on the no-abortion bandwagon if there were programs in place to take care of unwanted children that will work. There's nothing close to that now.
 

SoonerBeAHawk

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And yet.. the Radical Right will scream about welfare recipients and there's no doubt there will be increases in that realm.

And it won't all be inner city families affected. Those white trash people South of the Mason/Dixon line will have their hands out.
So, all the more reason to feel empathy for these "unwanted" children, right?
 

LetsGoHawks83

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Pre-medical cultures (barely 100 years ago), people just died in childbirth from things that are now fully preventable with abortions.

And that's what is going to happen. Already cancer patients who cannot get chemo until they've had an abortion, and they are having to travel out of state to get one before they can start cancer therapy.

Imagine having a couple kids already, getting diagnosed with Stage III/IV breast cancer and finding out you are pregnant. You have to leave your kids for a few days and delay your cancer care. Because why? Standard of Care is to get an abortion immediately to treat your cancer ASAP and maximize your survival odds. Instead, kids will be left orphans because "we have to save the babies" bullshit.

Cancer patients needing abortion.... Obviously is a thing, but is that a large portion of the roughly 800k abortions per year?

The majority is because people "aren't ready" or it's "inconvenient" to have that child.... Which is gross
 
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RileyHawk

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Cancer patients needing abortion.... Obviously is a thing, but is that a large portion of the roughly 800k abortions per year?

The majority is because people "aren't ready" or it's "inconvenient" to have that child.... Which is gross
What are the proposals you support that will take care of those 800K unwanted babies, not to mention the thousands of other children already out there? This is a societal issue - what do we do as a society to give these children a healthy, nurturing and happy childhood?
 
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HawkPT

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Are you also strongly advocating for more welfare funding, childcare funding, making adoptions of foreign babies illegal, funding programs to adopt and care for minorities and disabled children, widespread availability of free contraception, to name a few?

The HUGE disconnect is that those of you who want to force people to have babies have no interest in supporting them after they are born. Those on here who were adopted were, in large part, because they were healthy and not black. You won the adoption lottery. Far too many others don't.

I could get on the no-abortion bandwagon if there were programs in place to take care of unwanted children that will work. There's nothing close to that now.
My son is black.

The argument that pro-lifers only care for the baby before it's born is so tired. There is no proof that this is true.

On the contrary, Christians, who are largely pro-life, are amongst the most charitable, and many adopt and foster these children. We have personally supported many organizations that care for the orphans in America and throughout the world, and our church and many of our friends do the same.
 

RileyHawk

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My son is black.

The argument that pro-lifers only care for the baby before it's born is so tired. There is no proof that this is true.

On the contrary, Christians, who are largely pro-life, are amongst the most charitable, and many adopt and foster these children. We have personally supported many organizations that care for the orphans in America and throughout the world, and our church and many of our friends do the same.
You are the rare exception and it is commendable, but the argument is solid. Your anecdotal accounts are a small fraction of what is needed when considering the 400,000 children in foster care today - and that doesn't count those in terrible home or homeless situations. The will is not there to take care of these children, let alone 800,000 more per year.

There are not enough people who want a child to take them on. So what do we do? Do we force people to adopt a child as they become available? I mean, we're forcing people to have babies maybe we should force them to take babies. Some have offered solutions to the current issues with family aid, child care, child credits, etc. but that all gets voted down. No chance at providing those support structures when tripling the numbers.

There's always a lot of talk about someone doing this or a church doing that but that's all it is in the long run - talk.
 

HawkPT

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You are the rare exception and it is commendable, but the argument is solid. Your anecdotal accounts are a small fraction of what is needed when considering the 400,000 children in foster care today - and that doesn't count those in terrible home or homeless situations. The will is not there to take care of these children, let alone 800,000 more per year.

There are not enough people who want a child to take them on. So what do we do? Do we force people to adopt a child as they become available? I mean, we're forcing people to have babies maybe we should force them to take babies. Some have offered solutions to the current issues with family aid, child care, child credits, etc. but that all gets voted down. No chance at providing those support structures when tripling the numbers.

There's always a lot of talk about someone doing this or a church doing that but that's all it is in the long run - talk.
"It's a tough situation. Maybe killing them would be easier." That's essentially what you're saying.

Pro-lifers give more per capita to the organizations that aid these children than the average adults in America. They also are tax-paying citizens whose money goes to government institutions and programs that aid these children. On average, more people should spend their money like pro-lifers. That would help ease some of the pain.

We'd also have a much greater number of tax payers if we hadn't aborted 63M+ children since 1973.
 

Colonoscopy

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"It's a tough situation. Maybe killing them would be easier." That's essentially what you're saying.

Pro-lifers give more per capita to the organizations that aid these children than the average adults in America. They also are tax-paying citizens whose money goes to government institutions and programs that aid these children. On average, more people should spend their money like pro-lifers. That would help ease some of the pain.

We'd also have a much greater number of tax payers if we hadn't aborted 63M+ children since 1973.

Repubs probably need to get behind policy that benefits women & children much more than they currently do. They also need to drop stuff like abstinence education. Articled cited a study that about a sex ed program in St Louis that made available high quality contraceptives, they calculated it prevented nearly 7k abortions.

If you want to reduce abortions this has to be a focus.
 

Joes Place

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Cancer patients needing abortion.... Obviously is a thing, but is that a large portion of the roughly 800k abortions per year?
It's a non-zero number.
And it isn't like "breast cancer" never hits anyone in their childbearing years (which is what most of those women are getting treatment for). When you have the aggressive forms of it and the genetic defect, you don't want to be "waiting a few weeks" to start your therapy.

It literally is the difference between life and death. And other existing kids who may end up orphans.
 

Joes Place

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The argument that pro-lifers only care for the baby before it's born is so tired. There is no proof that this is true.
There is PLENTY of truth to this.

They REFUSE to fund basic care for lower income children, which is what MOST of those unwanted babies will end up being.

Prove me wrong, and show me where free childcare, free healthcare, free meals etc are on the GOP platform today for low income people.
 

HawkPT

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There is PLENTY of truth to this.

They REFUSE to fund basic care for lower income children, which is what MOST of those unwanted babies will end up being.

Prove me wrong, and show me where free childcare, free healthcare, free meals etc are on the GOP platform today for low income people.
There's so many places I could go with this, but I'll just say this: I'm talking about Christians and pro-lifers, and you immediately went to the GOP.

Christians pay their fair share of the taxes (possibly more than the average American citizen) and give more to charities than the average citizen. There are many more ways to provide aid to people in need than government programs, and many times those organizations are much more efficient and effective than government programs. People should spend their money more like Christians/pro-lifers.

As far as the GOP, there is much there to be desired.