Most of the complaints arising from the blockbuster Dobbs decision scrapping Roe v. Wade that had been a part of American life for five decades centered on the damage to women’s rights to control their bodies free from government interference, their “reproductive rights,” that Dobbs abrogated as a federal right.

Virtually all of the negative commentary in editorials, among bloviators on cable tv, and in state houses in states where abortion is generally approved emphasized women.

Surely women’s rights ought to be at the center of the condemnation of Dobbs.

Absent from the Dobbs debate has been what happens to the unwanted child brought to term when the mother is denied an abortion.

In a recent NPR broadcast, the director of an abortion clinic that went out of business after the Supreme Court’s decision was interviewed.

Two patients sat in the waiting room as the clinic closed. She described the two people waiting for the procedure. One was a thirteen-year-old girl. The other was a forty-two-year-old unemployed woman whose relationship with the father was so frightening that she could not bear the idea of ever interacting with him again. Also, she could not afford another child as she found it nearly impossible to support her two existing children.

What will happen to the two children brought to term in these two cases? In each case, the newborns will be unwanted.

The few studies that have examined children born after a denied abortion reach depressingly similar conclusions.

Pregnant women who seek abortions generally do not have essential prenatal care probably because most are of a socio-economic background that leads to a lack of access to resources and services.

Just over a third of births in the U.S. are unintended, a particularly high figure when compared with other developed countries. 

Research has shown that children from unintended pregnancies have poorer health and development than children from intended pregnancies. Since unintended births predict risk factors in childhood, how does this inform the young adult years? The unintended children exhibit more depressive symptoms in early adulthood than do wanted children according to a University of Buffalo study.

While still in childhood, the unwanted children “performed more poorly in school, had more psychological problems and more delinquency than did a matched group of children born at the same time to families who wanted them,” according to the Washington Post.

To deny women control over their own bodies is an abomination. But to countenance hundreds of thousands of unwanted children is a national calamity.

Children need to be wanted. What happens when an unwanted child has children in later life? Another generation of psychiatric morbidity!