Eric Walker, Ph.D. on "Adoption, Abortion, and Nonpersons"

Eric Walker, Ph.D.

Eric Walker, a Professor Emeritus in the Department of English, has published his article "Adoption, Abortion, and Nonpersons" in Adoption & Culture. In it, he discusses the current legislation regarding adoption and abortion, most notably, the regulations in 40 of the 50 states that restrict or prohibit adoptees' access to their original birth certificates and the recent Dobbs Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. He makes the claim that adoptees face "legal, social, and civil diminishment" and that the states with the least amount of support for women and children are often the same ones with the most limited reproductive rights. Further, there is an overlap between the states with the heaviest restrictions for both access to one's own adoption records and abortion. Walker introduces the term "nonperson" to describe those who are diminished by shame and unbestowed rights, specifically those given up for adoption and their birth mothers. He says that Dobbs sets a precedent that can open the door to laws that restrict other rights such as same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives. Walker continues by saying that even adoption is at risk of being restricted as evidenced by the opinions of Justice Samuel Alito who often cites English Common Law. This law offers no mention of adoption despite criminalizing abortion. Alito most frequently refers to William Blackstone who says that non-marital births (which make up 40% of births in the US) are an "illegitimate issue" but that abortion is "by the ancient law homicide or manslaughter." Support for English Common Law from powerful officials may leave women with the fear that eventually they may not be able to choose abortion or adoption.

We would like to congratulate Dr. Walker on this publication and encourage you to read the full article at