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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pundits, politicians, and pro-life activists are ramping up the movement's longstanding promotion of adoption as a crucial means to save babies from abortion.

Adoption was a central theme at the 2014 March for Life.

On September 24, 2013, Senator Deb Fischer, R-NE, introduced the “Abortion Information Act” with six other Republican senators. It requires organizations that accept Title X federal funding “to issue adoption promotion literature.” 

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And at the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List “Campaign for Life” Summit last week, not only did Fischer promote her bill, but CNN's S.E. Cupp promoted adoption as an important tactic for the pro-life movement. 

In her speech to SBA, Fischer praised state legislatures for passing laws that “make it more difficult to terminate pregnancies, and more importantly, they encourage women to carry their children full-term. Our efforts to encourage adoption have also been critical, and we're seeing a decline in abortion rights because of that.” 

She also said her “bill would ensure that anyone using federally funded family planning services also receives information about placing children for adoption.” 

According to Fischer Communications Director Joe Hack, “Adoption is a primary way to drive down the abortion rate and encourage women to carry their children to full term.” He says Fischer's adoption bill can be seen “as an extension of her pro-life views,” but “in a Democrat-controlled Senate, it is unlikely that the bill will get a vote.” Hack says this is “more reason why we need a change in party control.”

For the 40th anniversary of the DC March for Life, they adopted for the first time a secondary theme: “Adoption, a Noble Decision.” Many speakers, including the adopted son of Dr. James Dobson, spoke about the benefits of adoption.

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“My birth mother was 17 years old,” Ryan Dobson said. “She wasn't married. She didn't have a boyfriend. She didn't know what to do.” Facing an unplanned pregnancy, her family and church connected her with a pregnancy resource center, “and people just like you opened their arms to her, showed her the love of Christ, and gave her an alternative.”

Adoptive mother Rep. Vicky Hartzler also spoke at the March, saying, “In 2007 there were only 18,078 infant adoptions in the United States, yet there were 1.2 million babies who never had the chance to live, to grow, to be part of a loving family that is waiting for them.”

Last June, on MSNBC, Cupp said that pro-life activists should work to reduce barriers to legal adoption, claiming the movement “[hasn't] offered women a compelling alternative with a strident voice” to Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups.

Not everyone is convinced, however, that a renewed push for adoption would have a significant effect on America's abortion rate.

According to Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, “research shows women typically do not consider adoption until nearly five months into the pregnancy, after the realities of raising a child kicks in, related to cost, the mother's ability to continue her own education, etc.” 

“We are a baby-centered and women-centered part of the pro-life movement, and [the pro-life movement] need[s] to make it clear that adoption is a good thing, a beautiful, loving choice – and a mother who makes this choice is empowering her child to have a better life,” says Hartshorn. But Hartshorn, who has headed the worldwide pro-life crisis pregnancy center organization for 21 years, told LifeSiteNews that “while adoption is a great choice for many mothers, I do not think a sustained effort by the pro-life movement or the legislation Senator Fischer has introduced will have a great effect on the number of abortions or adoptions in this country.”

Hartshorn, however, says that “adoption is the second step in a two-step process, because the first step for most mothers is a visceral 'keep the baby or abort it.' Women see adoption as a distant third option, well behind that of abortion and raising the baby themselves.” 

She also says that “adoption is not an alternative to abortion, but instead an opportunity to make a choice that could provide your child with a better life than you believe you could provide for him or her.” 

A Guttmacher study published in 2005 noted that 88 percent of abortions are done by 12 weeks' gestation. Hartshorn says this is several weeks before most mothers consider adoption, “which means most women consider adoption as a direct alternative to raising the child – not abortion.” She says Heartbeat's clinics often avoid the topic of adoption, partially because of social stigma – mothers who give up their children are often criticized – and also because the focus is on convincing a desperate mother to not abort her child. 

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