Sunday, February 6, 2005

"There is a lot more to raising a child . . .

. . . than having a baby," Ed Cone correctly notes, referring to a letter that his cousin wrote to the NY Times.

It's also true for a lot of women, apparently, that there is a lot more to having an abortion than a quick trip to the Planned Parenthood clinic.

Greensboro is rich in institutions that help women and their children through the problems of pregnancy and child-rearing. I'm proud to say that two of them are housed in my neigbhorhood. Here is some basic information on the ones I know.

Summit House
The Summit House program strengthens the family by intervening in the lives of non-violent women offenders and their children. Comprehensive services are administered to the women and their children through the efforts of a public-private partnership in a highly structured and controlled environment. The program strives to break the cycle of crime. Summit House also advocates nationally for community-based sentencing programs.

Room at the Inn of the Triad
Room at the Inn provides transitional housing for homeless pregnant women. Residency is throughout pregnancy and up to one year after delivery. Six rooms are available, two with facilities for the expectant mother's additional children. Employment and/or educational pursuits are required. Room at the Inn is full 80% of the time and has a waiting list. Residents are required to apply for food stamps and to pay two-thirds of any public monies received, but no one is turned away for inability to pay. Phone: 336-275-9566.

Mary's House
Mary's House provides transitional housing to homeless single mothers who are in recovery from substance abuse. The women are housed, without their children, for 30 to 60 days; then their children may join them. Mary's House has a maximum capacity of eight families and is full 80% of the time. Residents stay an average of one year, but may stay for two years. The cost is 30% of the adjusted gross income for each client. Phone: 336-275-0820.

Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center
917 N. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27401
Telephone: (336) 274-4901
Fax:(336) 274-0325

Update: I read in the City Connections Newsletter today that "The City of Greensboro will receive funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide 16 units of new permanent housing to homeless mothers in recovery and their minor children." The grant is for more than three quarters of a million dollars. Maybe your neighborhood would be interested in receiving one of these houses?


Anonymous said...

My cousin is not a physician, nor is she to my knowledge active in pro-choice circles.

--Ed Cone

David Wharton said...

So noted and corrected, Ed. Thank you. If I knew how to do strikethrough text, I'd have corrected my error in the original post that way.

As it is, I just deleted the erroneous information (i.e., which said your cousing is a physician and pro-choice activist) from the post.

Joe Guarino said...

David-- Thanks for this post. I think we need to continue to talk up the option of adoption, a choice which is far superior ethically to abortion or single parenthood (about which Ed's cousin raised concern). I commented separately on her letter on Ed's blog. Appreciated also your Charlotte Simmons review.

Jim Rosenberg said...

How are you connecting Summit House and Mary's House to the issue of abortion? I don't understand; it doesn't make sense to me.

David Wharton said...

O Helios, this is the way I see it:

I've been told by a lot of pro-choice people over the years that if I'm going to encourage women not to have abortions, I should also be willing to help them raise their non-aborted children. I think these people have a point.

This is especially relevant for women whose circumstances make child-rearing difficult, like single, poor women with a criminal record or a drug abuse problem.

Mary's House and Summit House help women and children in those circumstances. Each of those mothers at some point probably made a decision not to abort her baby.

Does this make sense to you? 'Cause it seems pretty straightforward to me.

Room at the Inn, by the way, is extending its services to help its former clients with child-rearing and employment skills beyond the 1st year after birth in a new transitional facility to be called Amy's House.

* * *

Joe, adoption can also be a great option, but it also has its moral and emotional pitfalls; for some mothers, I think, single parenthood might be preferable. Though having spent a good deal of time as Mr. Mom while my wife was away on business, I know that single parenthood is WAY harder than most people imagine, even under the best circumstances.

Jim Rosenberg said...

Got it. I think they are both great facilities wholly apart from one's views on abortion. I confess I also bristle just a little at the class implications. Hey, why not send a few dollars to Kappa Kappa Gamma and the Junior League too -- for the more affluent women who choose to have an abortion for a different set of reasons.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Wharton, I can understand the natural emotional consequences of adoption for a mother, but what moral complications do you perceive?


David Wharton said...

Natural mothers and the children they put up for adoption sometimes have problems later in life when one wants to seek out the other, but the other doesn't. It can wreak havoc on families.

Joe Guarino said...

This is true, but the impacts of adoption have to be weighed against the considerable complications associated with single parent families-- poverty, criminality, imprisonment, early sexual activity and promiscuity, multigenerational patterns of single parent families, school drop-outs, conduct problems in school, lower academic achievement, diminished physical health, increased risk of injury, mental health problems, and dependency on public sector charity programs of various types. And the cycle goes round and round.

All of this makes adoption look pretty good, in my mind, although admittedly imperfect. I would welcome an approach which would base these decisions on the long-term interests of the child-- not the preferences or perceived self-interest of the mother or father. I also think we need to find a way to make the mother and father equally accountable to society in these situations. It is wrong to place the entire burden of these situations on the female, but this is precisely what we have done because we have created a context in which the young male can be utterly irresponsible.