And Today?

 ” Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year, seeking babies for adoption and charging prospective parents enormous fees to process paperwork. The problems surrounding many intercountry adoptions in which children are taken from poor families in undeveloped countries and given to parents in developed countries, have become quite well known, but the Special Rapporteur was alarmed to hear of certain practices within developed countries, including the use of fraud and coercion to persuade single mothers to give up their children.” –United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003.

“Based on what I’ve learned about the experiences of [mothers] in the United States, I want to suggest that the conventional understanding of adoption should be turned on its head. Almost everybody believes that on some level, [mothers] make a choice to give their babies away. I argue that adoption is rarely about mothers’ choices; it is, instead, about the abject choicelessness of some resourceless women.” – Rickie Solinger, Beggars and Choosers, 2001.

After 1973. The Supreme Court did not strike down state law prohibiting contraceptive use by married couples until 1965 (Griswold v Connecticut.) It was not until 1972 that the Supremem Court ruled that unmarried people have the right to contraception ( Eisenstadt v. Baird )

Safe, legal, abortion on demand was not readily available to unmarried women until Roe v Wade, 1973.

There was little to no way to enforce child support payments prior to the Social Security Amendments of 1974.

Also in 1974, Congress passes the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. It prohibits discrimination in consumer credit practices on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance. As a result of being able to establish their own lines of credit, women can now get credit cards, take out auto loans, and rent apartments independently.

In addition, in 1974, sex was added to the list of protected classes in the Fair Housing Act, which was first enacted by Congress in 1968. Before that time, women could be discriminated against by sellers or renters of housing properties.

In 1975, the Supreme Court decided in Cleveland Board of Education v LeFleur, that employers can not force pregnant women to take unpaid maternity leave after the first trimester because it impinges upon women’s due process rights.

In 1978, Congress passed The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It bans employment discrimination against pregnant women. Under the act, a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant Further, she can not be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.

These rapid changes in the legal standing of American women between 1971 and 1978 ushered in an era of increasing economic, social and educational independence for them. With this independence came changes in women’s personal power. Practices and attitudes towards women that had been the norm for a century or more were swept away in a tidal wave of social change. Advances in reproductive medicine were also occurring during the 1970s with widespread acceptance and use of the birth control pill. Coupled with the new legal standing of women, practices which had been unremarkable, everyday and “normal” before and during the Baby Scoop Era, became unthinkable.