August 13, 2021

Simone Biles Stumbles on Abortion

The gymnast gave the impression foster kids are better off being aborted than being adopted.

Simone Biles has made some controversial headlines in recent weeks, starting with her unselfish decision to forgo most of the competitions at the Tokyo Olympics. This week, however, she made a far less coherent and much more selfish proclamation that has many fans up in arms.

In response to an Instagram post stating the unpopular, but correct, opinion that abortion is wrong, Biles wrote (grammar in the original): “I already know this is going to start the biggest argument & may even lose followers BUT. I’m very much pro-choice[.] your body. your choice[.] also for everyone [who’s] gonna say ‘just put it up for adoption’ it’s not that easy & coming from someone who was in the foster care system TRUST me[.] foster care system is broken & it’s TOUGH. especially on the kids & young adults who age out[.] & adoption is expensive … im just saying.”

This naturally came across as asserting that foster kids are better off being aborted than being adopted, and that adoption isn’t worth the money it takes.

In one respect, she’s right vis-à-vis the foster care system. As political commenter Michael Reagan, the adopted son of President Ronald Reagan, observed earlier this year: “Foster care in our country has been a scandalous failure for decades. Though it’s supposed to save children from the neglect or abuse of their birth parents by placing them with state-certified foster parents or relatives, it often becomes a cruel form of child abuse itself. The raw statistics are appalling. Right now there are about 435,000 American children in foster care.” Reagan added, “Statistics say that foster children who are placed in five or more homes have a 90 percent chance of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.” Clearly, to Biles’s point, the system is broken and tough, and reforming it needs to happen tout de suite.

That said, not only must we avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water, if you will, but we also must avoid stipulating that sending a baby to its death is preferable to adoption. Ironically, Biles herself is a foster care survivor who not only thrived as an adoptee but eventually became a gymnastics legend. Her grandparents adopted her and her sisters and set her on the path to amazing athletic success.

When confronted with her own words in her Instagram post, Biles responded: “DO NOT misconstrue my words. That is not at all what I implied. I did NOT say I support to abort rather than to put them through the foster care system. What I did imply is that you should not control someone elses [sic] body/decision. Let’s be real what you care about is control.”

Biles’s desire for bodily autonomy is a common theme with her. It’s quite possible that Biles, who suffered in the Olympics from the “twisties” — wherein gymnasts lose a sense of where they are in the air, which makes completing and landing the moves dangerous and likely to cause injury — feels out of control of her own body. Moreover, Biles is involved with the “Athlete A” documentary on Netflix, which chronicles the scandal of Dr. Larry Nassar, who was convicted of sexually assaulting elite gymnasts. Sadly, she was one of the victims. Did the culmination of these feelings and experiences, in which she was denied control of her body, compel her to make this pro-choice declaration?

The bottom line, though, is that this disingenuous definition of pro-choice, where all choices are available to the mother, still leads to the ugly conclusion that abortion is an option. Ultimately, it’s not the mother’s body that is at risk in this decision; it’s the baby’s, whose life is being taken away. But why did Biles feel the need to make such a public political statement?

Perhaps Biles’s comments were intended to start a new track in her career. After all, being a political activist is good money these days. At 24 years old, her career as an elite gymnast is winding to a close, so she’s undoubtedly contemplating next steps. Instead of going the pro-choice route, which is antithetical to her whole story, would it not be better and so much wiser for her to build on the platform she started at the 2020 Olympic Games by advocating for the mental health of athletes and addressing the various abuses they face? This at least has a positive impact. Abortion advocacy doesn’t.

In any case, her comments on abortion and foster care were certainly off-balance and nonsensical in the extreme. It definitely did not earn her a gold medal with many of her fans.

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