Abortion v. Adoption: The Texas Showdown New Laws

abortion adoption options Texas
By Jacob LaBau

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court has had little to no effect on adoption rates and surrogacy in Texas. Abortion laws have been ever-changing. Both state and federal laws have changed since 2021, making it illegal to have an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy in Texas. These new laws will increase the number of birth mothers choosing to raise a child and may cause an increase in adoption. Although it is challenging to place sole reasoning on the overturning of Roe v. Wade for an increase in adoptions, something has caused a spike. Amanda Bailey is an adoption specialist at Adoption Choices of Texas. She explains her thoughts on if adoption rates will continue to increase.

“We thought COVID was going to slow down adoption rates, but believe it or not, COVID has caused an increase in adoptions. I can’t necessarily say if it will continue to increase. The number has stayed fairly average, with the slightest increase in birth mothers choosing adoption. I think right now it is too early to tell,” Bailey said.

The prevalence of COVID may have caused an opposite effect on adoption rates. What is believed to be a virus that slows down most business operations, Adoption Choices of Texas saw an increase in adoptions. Jennifer Morrison, executive director at Adoption Choices of Texas, speaks more on birth mothers increasingly choosing adoption. 

“I feel that it’s a combination of coming off COVID and the heartbeat bill rather than overturning Roe v. Wade. More and more people did not call us last second to avoid being a parent. I think it’s very, very new. It just happened, you know. Most people who are choosing adoption are 4-5 weeks pregnant, which is still outside the two weeks of when the overturning took place,” Morrison said.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is too recent in Jennifer’s eyes to place cause and effect. The Texas Heartbeat Act bans abortion after detecting embryonic or fetal cardiac activity, normally occurring after about six weeks of pregnancy. The mixture between the heartbeat bill and COVID is responsible for the noticeable adoption increase. Jennifer also talked about the correlation between adoption and abortion.

“Adoption is not necessarily an alternative, and they are feeling very displaced. It’s a very triggering and emotional decision. They feel discredited. Abortion and adoption don’t necessarily go hand in hand either. They decided to pursue adoption at their own given time, not due to a law. They decided independently and willingly made an adoption plan because they wanted to do that. You don’t necessarily abort or adopt. It’s discrediting them. They are concerned that as a woman, it is looked at as “Just do an adoption,” and it isn’t an easy decision,” Morrison said.

Some birth mothers are distraught at the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but it will not affect adoption rates as some would believe. Just because a birth mother cannot pursue abortion does not mean a birth mother will choose adoption. Adoption can be an emotional journey that requires a lot of analysis before a birth mother commits to it.

Jenny Womack is a solo practitioner, outside counsel for Adoption Choices of Texas, and president of the Academy of Adoption and Assistance Reproduction Attorneys. She believes that we will see an increase in adoptions due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but we will see a larger impact in something else.

“I think there will be a little increase. I don’t know how dramatic it will be. Where the dramatic increase will be in Child Protective Services cases, where the kids are being removed from dangerous situations, I think there will be more deaths. We will see it more in private adoptions, a bigger impact on CPS or whatever the equivalent is in other states. More prepared, more capable. I think for a lot of people, when they are forced to give birth. They have three options: parent, voluntary adoption, or CPS cases. Whether they leave them in a safe haven or not, we will probably see an increase in abandonment. Choosing to place a child up for adoption is such a difficult decision, so either people choose to parent, and that goes fine, or maybe it doesn’t, and they resort to abandonment. For many, that is the path because placing a child is such a difficult decision, especially if the family is unsupportive. Making an adoption plan reflects the intention of the birth parents, and they are making a choice,” Womack said.

Based on Jenny’s predictions, the United States will see a larger impact on CPS (Child Protective Services) cases than on adoption. Jenny shares the same thinking as Jennifer regarding there not being a correlation between adoption and abortion. Is the Texas Heartbeat Act subject to change, and are there any other implications due to this new bill?

“It makes it a felony to perform an abortion in Texas. It would not surprise me to see some bills to make it a criminal act to obtain an abortion. Whether it goes there or not, those conversations will happen in January. The Oklahoma law is from conception, whereas ours is still from unintended consequences of surrogacy. Conception is in the womb. What happens if a doctor destroys embryos? These are things that need to be addressed before we start seeing them in real-time,” Womack stated.

All in all, no conclusive evidence was found due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has caused an increase in birth mothers pursuing adoption. The Texas Heartbeat Act and COVID may have had a noticeable effect on adoption rates, but nothing is certain. Where the United States will see an impact is in CPS cases. Adoptive parents will no longer get the freedom to choose a perfect birth mother. The laws currently in place in Texas may see changes in the future. There is a lot to think about regarding the well-being of a child, involuntary adoptions, and sketchy abortions that are not protected by the current laws the U.S. has in place. For pregnancy resources, please contact any of the numbers below. 

Children/Parenting/Pregnancy Services:

  • Adoption Services: https://www.adoptionchoicesoftexas.org | 888-307-3340 pregnancy or at delivery, it’s never too late!
  • Abortion Services: 800-230-PLAN | time sensitive <6 weeks gestation
  • After morning pill: please visit any drug store, grocery store, or pharmacy; take within 72 hours of unprotected sex
  • Safe Haven Law: 888-307-3340 or take your baby to any hospital, fire station, or emergency medical service and give to an employee | 877-904-7283 | <60 days old