General Question

hossman's avatar

Why choose an abortion over an adoption?

Asked by hossman (3228 points ) August 19th, 2007

This question is not intended to be as controversial as you are probably thinking. Please, no political debate. I am genuinely seeking feedback, largely from the ladies, as to why an abortion would be chosen over permitting the full term and delivery, then adopting the child out. Obviously, this excludes when the fetus will not survive to full term. Please, no political debate here. This should start from the basic understanding that at a minimum abortion is the termination of what has the potential to be a human life, and at a maximum is murder. Then why are so many more pregnancies ending in abortion than adoption? This is a sincere request for honest feedback.

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50 Answers

mdy's avatar

I think the reasons are deeply personal to each mother, and that no single answer will yield a proper or satisfactory explanation.

Having said that, here are my list of possible reasons...

Why would an abortion be chosen over permitting the full term and delivery, then adopting the child out.

Possible reasons:

1. The child was conceived against the mother's wishes (e.g., result of rape, sexual abuse)

2. The mother fears the 'stigma' of an unwanted pregnancy, which can't be hidden if the child is brought to full term (e.g., young, unmarried girl who is afraid of her family's reaction, or societal reaction)

3. The mother believes she will not be able to care for the unborn child properly during the nine months of pregnancy due to lack of support

4. Genetic tests during pregnancy show that the unborn child will not be normal even though it will survive full term (e.g., Down's Syndrome)

Then why are so many more pregnancies ending in abortion than adoption?

Possible reasons:

1. It's now less of stigma to have an abortion than it used to be

2. It's now easier to have an abortion than it used to be

3. It's now 'safer' (i.e., less of a health risk) to have an abortion now than it used to be

hossman's avatar

And please, everybody, let's show some adult respect and courtesy and not attack each other for our answers.

hossman's avatar

OK, looks like I wasn't sufficiently specific or clear in my question. I'm also looking for whether you find these reasons to be acceptable for you. I understand if any of you would prefer to not answer that question without anonymity. But if you would, could you please include in your posts if you feel whether a reason is acceptable, as we could certainly list reasons we ourselves may personally find both acceptable and unacceptable.

Perchik's avatar

I know one reason that I've heard (not being a woman) is the state of the adoption system. I've had some friends come from it, (at least in this state) and it was horrible on them.

mzgator's avatar

I love and treasure being an American Woman and being free to make my own choices. With that being said, I, personally, could not and would not have an abortion. If I had gotten pregnant, there are so many avenues to go down. There are so many wonderful parents who want a child and can not have one of their own. This is a large group of people willing to do anything to achieve their dream of having a child. I was not supposed to be able to get pregnant. I had wanted a child for so many years.,,,and nothing. I had been married for 5 years and found myself suddenly divorced. I thought I would never have a child. I was alone and poor. I met my current husband through work. We started dating and in a few months......guess what ...I'm pregnant! What a surprise! We have a beautiful13 year old daughter now. A year after having her I had to have a hysterectomy. I guess my daughter happened when she was supposed to...and what a blesssing to us she is! I guess...what I am saying...is I can identify with someone who wants a child so badly that it hurts. Before I could have an abortion, I would want to help someone else have a child.

gailcalled's avatar

I was lucky; I got pregnant when I wanted to, and in spite of two scary and uncomfortable miscarriages, had two lovely and perfect children. But I began to have severe lower back problems and knew that I would never be able to muster the strength or stamina to survive another pregnancy, let alone, raise three children. Fortunately, I never conceived again so never had to choose; but I did have several friends (by then in their early forties) who chose, reluctantly, to have an abortion. I don't think most thoughtful and caring women make this choice lightly. Personally, I loved being pregnant (I was very young) but it was certainly nine months of discomfort, sometimes, severe.

hearkat's avatar

@mzgator: There are MANY, MANY foster children who can not find loving homes; so to say that there are people that would do anything to have a child, it has to be corrected to say that they would do anything to have a "normal" or preferably "perfect" child. I worked in an inner-city children's hospital for many years and saw numerous children get lost in the system. But because they were from a minority, or perhaps had some medical or behavioral issues, they were not getting placed with families.

@mdy has a very accurate response to the question, and I find all of those reasons acceptable, because only the woman can make that decision for herself. It is between her and her God or conscience or whatever system of morals and values she possesses, and no one should ever try to force their belief system on another. Of the people I know who have had abortions, it was the hardest decision they've ever faced, and many still ponder the "what-ifs". For most, there seems to be regret at having to be in the position to make that decision; but also a sense that it was the right thing to do, even with the benefit of hindsight.

glial's avatar

Quote from mzgator "I love and treasure being an American Woman and being free to make my own choices."

I'll leave it at that.

iomar's avatar

joli is crafting a message, what is that?

hearkat's avatar

@iomar: it means that the member named "joli" is in the process of typing an answer to this question.

iomar's avatar

oh, thanks :) i didn't know that was possible on this site.

joli's avatar

Many people are concerned about overpopulating the world. There are too many unwanted children in this world. There are already millions needing adoption. Too many children who grow to adulthood deprived of even minimal affection, guidance and often food. These are some of the issues that would lean one's mind to be intellectual rather than emotional about this issue. There would be NO guarantee the child would indeed end up adopted into a loving home, adoptive parents can be very picky and back out at the last minute. Taking on a human life is a huge responsibility. Often there may be other issues like one parent wouldn't agree to an adoption, or either are not mentally profficient to address the issues of pregnancy or childbirth. I imagine many people would have a hard time handling the societal backlash, having to deal with what other people think about them giving up their own child. This is not something you could go about quietly, unnoticed by your peers.

mzgator's avatar

Thank you glial....that was exactly what I was saying. As an American woman I am free to make MY own decision NOT to have an abortion as the next woman is to HER decision to have one. I was not trying to force my views. I was merely explaining my reasons for personally never having an abortion. This is America. We all have different opinions. I am grateful living in a country where we are all able to voice our own opinions.

I would never EVER judge another person for their choices, because I have not lived their life.

gooch's avatar

What would be the difference if we let them be born and if they don't get adopted by the age of 5 we just cut their heads off to reduce the suffering they are experiencing and so they don't burden our lives anymore. Is not this just an extremely late abortion.

hossman's avatar

@gooch: We are venturing into perhaps excessively "charged" language with that last post. Your position is valid, and I don't find your post offensive, but I just want to keep this all civil, and don't want it to stray into hostility.

gooch's avatar

I have personally have adopted two children and I am so happy they were given a chance so they could become part of my family. I have seen children be born and I have seen children die too many times. I am not directly attacking anybody I just want these kids too be given a chance like mine. I thank their mothers for not aborting them.

hossman's avatar

Please permit me to add another series of questions to this thread. At what point, from a separate sperm and egg to an adult human, does this "genetic material" (to use an absolutely neutral term), sufficiently approach humanity that the government may restrict the decision to terminate further maturation, and in what manner/circumstances may it be restricted? I am seeking a spectrum of viewpoints for a presentation I am preparing. To use an example, but by no means is this asserting my view or asserting an argument, let us say the "genetic material" (and I have no idea what circumstances this might happen or be done) has left the birth canal, is outside the mother's body, but the umbilical cord has not been severed, nor has breathing commenced. Could this "genetic material" be aborted? In other words, at some point, between fertilization and adulthood, there should be some form of legal process to ensure this "genetic material" has their "separate" interest represented independent of the mother's interest. At what point would you draw a bright line, and under what circumstances (poverty, medical reasons, simply the mother's choice, culling of genetically undesirable traits) would termination be permitted?

hossman's avatar

I am also interested in part of mdy's response, listing as a potential reason for terminating "genetic material" that the "genetic material" has an undesirable genetic trait. mdy used the example of Down Syndrome. I am aware that some gay rights activists wish a ban against research that may determine if there is a gene linked to propensity for homosexuality, on the basis that parents hypothetically may use prenatal testing and abortion to prevent the birth of "genetic material" with a higher probability of being homosexual. Let's take as our spectrum, on one end, the undesirable trait being an extremely painful and certainly fatal genetic condition, such as Infantile Tay-Sach's Disease, through a potentially limiting but non-fatal genetic condition such as Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy or autism, through non-limiting, non-fatal genetic conditions desired or not desired by the mother, like homosexuality, gender, apparent race or intelligence (within "normal" range), to purely cosmetic issues, like height, eye color, hair color, etc. Again, I am looking for where you would draw a bright line that establishes a point where you, personally, would say our legal system could prohibit or restrict the mother's termination of further maturation.

hearkat's avatar

Wow, @hossman! Those are heavy, heavy issues that once seemed the stuff of science fiction novels, but now are amazingly right on our horizon!

In the hospital where I worked, there were babies born as early as 22-23 weeks gestation, which was still legally early enough to have an abortion. Thousands of dollars in medical care were spent to save these babies and try to advance their growth to where they could actually survive independently, with no guarantees as to what their quality of life might be. A decade or two earlier, these would have been considered miscarriages or stillbirths; and many of these children still did not survive despite the extensive effort, and those that did live often had a long struggle ahead of them in developing "normal" functions with lots of medical and rehabilitative care and expense.

In my personal and professional life combined, I feel that I have seen virtually every side to this issue, and that makes it even harder to draw a clear-cut date or age at which the "genetic material" can be considered its own person. I have always felt fairy comfortable with the 26 weeks (5 months) gestation cutoff for abortions. That is about the time when fetal movements become much more evident to the mother and just when substantial physical growth is about to begin. Also, babies born after this age seem to have fairly good odds of survival with less extensive damage from the prematurity and related treatments.

On ethical grounds, I would like to see international consensus laws on which genetic conditions can be screened for and which can not. Another area also to be discussed is the testing of the egg and sperm prior to fertilization, or testing after fertilization but before implantation. IVF is so common nowadays that soon such testing will be requested before the fact, as a means of producing "designer" babies. They are currently performing surgery in-utero to repair cleft lips and palates, and now we have 3D ultrasound... how long before parents want cosmetic surgery on their babies? Heck, giving a girl breast implants for her "Sweet 16" is child abuse, in my opinion, but it is sadly becoming acceptable in the wealthier parts of society.

Another aspect I have difficulty with is what if the father wants the baby... should he be allowed to legally force the mother to carry the baby to term and then she can choose to waive her parental rights? As a woman, I say no way! But I can see that this presents some very blurry legal/ethical/moral ground... I'm afraid I've added even more questions rather than providing any clear opinion. It is one of the most challenging topics of our time, for sure.

hossman's avatar

A minimal bright line I am very comfortable with is: since both a sperm and an egg lack the genetic ability to become a human being without the other (well, not an egg, but the odds of parthogenesis in a mammal are possible but astronomically improbable), then separately, neither can possibly be human, and there would be no problem with destroying (but not modifying either). Although I understand I am somewhat left of the Catholic Church in this regard. An interesting corollary of the Catholic Church's position on contraception is that male masturbation (at least when the sperm are fertile) thus becomes murder, which is at least consistent with the Biblical story of Onan.

mzgator's avatar

I wish all of you could meet my nephew Bodee. He was born at 23 weeks gestation. He just started kindergarten this year. He was hospitalized for over 3 months because he weighed only 13 ounces. He is a totally normal 5 year old boy with no problems. His hearing, sight, learning abilities and breathing are normal. He is just totally amazing....a miracle! With the advances in neonatology..miracles are happening every day. We were just lucky to have our own miracle with him.

gailcalled's avatar

Acc'ding to the RC church, wouldn't then coitus interruptus be also considered murder? Or does the church sanction only the rhythm method?

hearkat's avatar

@mzgator: Yes, your nephew is a miracle, and not all families are as fortunate as yours. The jury is still out on "learning abilities" as some issues don't turn up until 6 or 7 anyway, but the fact that he is thriving now is a wonderful sign. Once discharged from the hospital, did he need medical treatment and/or have Early Intervention and other services to help him catch up?

mzgator's avatar

@hearkat: Our state does intervention for the first three years. It is mandatory. When he came home, he had all of the breathing equipment needed in case he had a problem. He also had to wear the alarm that alerted you if he stopped breathing. He had people from the state come into his home to check his living arrangments, make sure he had his medication, etc. At three years, he was done with intervention. This little guy has AMAZED everyone who has met him. Before starting school, he could read. As I have stated earlier, I homeschool my daughter. I had kept all of her early material and worked with Bodee, and he has amazed me. I am no professional, but this little guy seems way above where he should be. What's so funny about him is that he has the Greatest ....most out-going personality....just a wonder to be around. My brother and his wife have had a very hard time. His medical bills were in the millions of dollars. They were forced to file bankruptcy and lost their home. I am glad to say that they just bought a brand new home last week. They call Bodee their million dollar child, and he was worth every penny.

hearkat's avatar

@mzgator: The miracle has been facilitated by having the love and support of what sounds like an awesome family. Bodee is truly blessed.

mzgator's avatar

Thank you

hossman's avatar

@gailcalled: It depends on how interruptus the coitus. To use Biblical terms, if seed is not spilled, no foul. At least, that would be my take. The Church, however, might assert any coitus not for the purposes of procreation to be improper, I'm not sure.

Poser's avatar

@hearkat: I see your point about the father wanting the baby. I've wondered about that myself, but never heard of a situation where it came up. I've also been concerned about the seeming double standard involved when a man wants to give up his parental rights, but is forced to provide child support, while the woman is free to have an abortion, despite the man's wishes.

Personally, I think support should be compulsory for either parent that creates a life.

In answer to hoss's original question, I think that there is a lot of stigma surrounding adoption, as some previous posts indicate. That's pretty sad, as I've known several people who were adopted who are very well adjusted. It's common sense: people who adopt kids want kids, so they tend to take better care of them.

Perchik's avatar

I just want to chime in about this question. This has been the most civilized discussion about abortion I've ever seen. Great job!

hossman's avatar

Yes, thank you to everyone for keeping it under control. If anyone is out there lurking, but concerned, based on other threads, I'm just waiting to pounce on someone and attack their opinion, please post. I give you my word as a gentleman I will not attack, nor argue my own position on this thread, but I may ask questions intended to get you to clarify or expand your post. I'm still looking for the explicit reasoning to choose abortion over adoption, and whether these reasons are acceptable to you. This is not the same question as whether abortion should be legal, but rather, assuming the current legal atmosphere, where abortion on demand is legal, why is this option exercised so much more frequently than adoption. There are a few reasons I have thought of that no one has mentioned, but this thread isn't about my thoughts, I want to see the "take" of others.

joli's avatar

I know many women who would say they had, "*no choice* BUT to have an abortion". Without expressing an opinion per say, I think this attitude says a lot about the condition of sexuality, birth control and dating issues, family emotional support issues, image, and the general pace of the *me* life that prevails in America today. We need to teach our young women not to take risks no matter if men protest condoms, and explain the emotional toll an abortion can take on one's conscience. Abortions are not risk free. I know one woman who paid dearly for it. When she did marry and wanted a family she discovered the scar tissue had ruined her chances of becoming pregnant again. Perhaps if more of these stories were well known, and the issues addressed out loud, adoption might appear the clearer way to procede. Either way, a woman loses her child.

I don't believe there is any stigma to adopting, or being an adopted child, but I don't think we have enough childless couples wanting to fill the demand. Stats anyone?

hossman's avatar

When these woman said they had "no choice," did they really, literally, have no choice, or is what they're really saying they had no other choice that fit what they needed or wanted AS WELL as abortion?
And I've never understood why women would permit men to decide whether or not a condom is used, as the woman will be bearing the "genetic material," not the man. Now that I think about it, for women to permit men to influence the birth control decision, but insist on not permitting men to influence the decision to terminate the result of the first decision, is completely bass ackwards, logically contradictory, and just plain foolish.

joli's avatar
Just plain foolish, indeed!
TheKitchenSink's avatar

Massive pain, hassle, time, restriction, craving, stretch marks, weight, etc., as opposed to a little money and an appointment. Not to mention it would mean there’d be another annoying human in the world, and abortion often promotes scientific discoveries.

I think the choice is clear.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

I have a friend who was impregnated through rape. She chose to have an abortion because she “couldn’t a hate a child for something it hadn’t done.”

hossman's avatar

Abortion promotes scientific discoveries? That’s a new one. And everybody got upset at the authors of “Freakonomics” when they suggested abortion on demand has reduced crime rates.

Eleanor's avatar

I think in some cases Abortion is warranted. Such as rape or sexual abuse. But if a child is created out of love then why not have it and possibly raise it? But on the other hand if it was just a random guy from a bar, or an old friend you “accidentally had sex with” then possibly put it up for adoption, because it wasn’t created out of something bad, but it wasn’t exactly created out of love so why not give the child a chance to grow up and become a beautiful being with parents who could give it everything it needs.

I know there are alot of really bad adoptive parents out there who are just in it for the money or whatever, but I know of private adoption you get to meet the parents and have a whole tour through their lives. Or if you choose to go the route of Open Adoption then you can know that your child is doing well with their new parents.

No matter what decision you choose it will be hard. For every woman it’s different and for every situation it’s hard.

TheKitchenSink's avatar

Hossman. Stem cell research. It’s not always used for that purpose, which is why I said “often.” Granted I read a headline about how they may be able to use some other more “ethical” and easier resource, I forget which, but I doubt that’s already been put into practice.

phoenyx's avatar

This is a question I’ve debated with myself quite a bit.

It seems that pro-life arguments come from the position that human genetics determine “humanity”. The problem seems to be that there are things with human genetics that shouldn’t be given human rights (I’ve heard arguments that would lead to blood donations having rights, tissue samples, etc.) The pro-choice arguments come from the position that human behavior determines “humanity”. The problem is that behavior changes (e.g. if someone went through a coma, they somehow were human, inhuman, then human again).

Unable to decide satisfactorily how to define human and what to give human rights to, I thought maybe I could take it from the opposite direction. Namely, why is murder wrong? Is abortion murder or enough like murder to make it wrong? I concluded that murder is wrong because it deprives someone of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When someone is killed they can’t complete the life they would have otherwise had. They were cut short in the human experience and human future they would have had had another person not interfered. Will a human egg cell have a human experience and human future if someone doesn’t interfere? No. Will a human sperm cell? No. Will a fertilized egg in a womb have a human future and human experience if left to develop? Yes, I believe so. Interfering with that development and life would be wrong.

I can make exception for an embryo that endangers the life of mother. I think exception should be made for rape or situations in which a woman was impregnated against her will, (although the belief doesn’t quite fit into my above argument). All other embryos should be allowed to grow to term and be born. I think that adoption is, save the exceptions I mention above, always better than abortion.

I should mention that my personal experience colors my beliefs. One of my best friends was adopted. Another friend was born with genetic defects that made it impossible for him to move his own body and he lived his life almost no different than a head in a jar might. However, I my life is much richer for having known him. I have a friend and his wife who are infertile and would give anything they own for a child of their own.

Disclaimer: I’m writing this late at night. I hope I’m not rambling too much and I hope it makes sense in the morning.

artemisdivine's avatar

women have a right to decide what to do with their bodies. not bringing an unwanted child into the world and sending their bodies into nine months of misery is fine by me. of course it is not wise to have multiple abortions, then that just means the woman is stupid. birth control is easy to get.

right to lifers are crazy. no man has a right to tell me what to do with my body. and until the right to lifers put up MILLIONS to pay for the care and feeding of these unwanted kids, they dont have a leg to stand on. its a lot of hot air.

Response moderated
richardhenry's avatar

@sarbee: Whilst your viewpoint is fine, your tone is completely inappropriate.

needaclue's avatar

The question is, what reasons for abortion do I find acceptable, personally, over carrying to term and adopting?

These would be acceptable reasons to abort a child rather than offer it for adoption. I’m using the first person here, but please don’t imagine that these would be reasons I would choose to abort a fetus of my own. These are reasons I would find acceptable for other women:

1. Economics. I am a poor woman without health care and a low-paying job. Pregnancy may affect my ability to work and feed the rest of my family.

2. Health concerns. I have epilepsy, diabetes, or another condition or disease that will be exacerbated by carrying a pregnancy.

3. Genetic concerns. I carry a gene for MS, Parkinson’s, breast cancer, or other hereditary problems for which there is no cure at present.

4. I do not wish to contribute to overpopulation of the planet.

5. I have a family that is the size I want. I do want to have to explain to others what I have “done with” the baby, including my children who may be too young to understand my decision, or who may be traumatized by fear that they could be surrendered for adoption, when that is not likely.

6. I am not inclined to regard human life as particularly precious, so arguments for the preservation of a human life do not move me.

7. I read the newspaper and I am aware that adopters are not always good to their kids. Therefore, I choose not to risk adoption, public or private: http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=5914864&page=1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Steinberg

7. I am afraid that I will develop a mental disorder following the birth, as other family members have.

8. I don’t want to experience pregnancy, labor and delivery.

9. I have become pregnant against my will, either through violence or deception (someone tampered with my medication or barrier).

10. The fetus has a catastrophic problem that will render life post-birth nasty, brutish and/or short.

11. In the face of world overpopulation, the availability of international adoption and readily available older American children, I do not feel inclined or obligated to supply childless couples with an infant, when there are plenty of opportunities to acquire a child and be parents, should they choose to.

Essentially, though I would not choose abortion for myself under most circumstances, I approve of the right of a girl or woman to determine for herself what she will do with her uterus and its contents, without meddling from legislators, religious leaders, parents or would-be parents.

Hope this helps in your presentation.

VzzBzz's avatar

In the case of accidental pregnancy, maybe a woman decides he doesn’t want to pass on her own or her partner’s genetics to the child, for the child’s sake.

bea2345's avatar

Why choose abortion over adoption? because pregnancy and childbirth change a woman’s life in profound and sometimes unforseen, ways. What is a fulfilling and joyful experience for one might be a nightmare for another. The choice must be the woman’s, and hers alone, based on the best available information (that is why the education of women is so essential in any consideration of their gender and sex roles).

Furthermore, adoption is iffy. If there are so many people wanting to adopt, why are there so many children in foster care? Perhaps our approach to adoption is wrong. Just think: a childless couple wants to adopt. Can they be persuaded to consider an older child instead of a baby? There would have to be support services, as adopting an older child means big adjustments for everybody, etc.

Cholder05's avatar

Let’s see! Choice abortion, keep it, adoption! Un wanted pregnancy= hard choice. Something that the women would forever have to live with. If abortion or adobtion is what’s goig threw your mind then Keeping it is not an answer. Abortion lots of heart ache from the loss of your child and the what ifs. The wondering of was it a girl boy healthy, what could it have been, ect. Able to return to your choice of life with all this still on your mind, but copeing. After time the pain slowly gets better and When you do decide to have a child then you will no your ready and thts what you want. Adoption 9 months of careing for a cHild and takeing care of it inside you! Protecting it from all evil and feeling it grow inside of you and no that you have created this little creature. Go threw 15 hrs of delivery hold it smell it kiss it, and give it away as if it never was there. Now left with the same feeling of loss just in a greater impact. Wondering all the what ifs but now add is it loved everyday is it being held and kissed and told how much it is loved or is it in a closet hideing from it’s dad so it doenst get beat again for nothing that it has down, or is it still in the system waiting to live this life? But it’s left up to the women

JLeslie's avatar

I would probably never sleep again if I gave away a baby, I just can’t imagine it. Since I believe in the beginning stages the embryo is more a group of cells then a baby I would go that route. I should point out giving up a baby was not part of the conversation when I was a teen. If I had been pregnant by accident the choice would have been abortion or raising my baby, and my mother would have pushed hard for abortion. I knew two girls that gave up their babies to adoption and it was kind of shocking to me. I don’t mean I judged them, I think giving up a baby for adoption is the most sefless amazing thing, but I just could not imagine turning over my baby to someone else. Thankfully I never had to make this choice.

FromNJ23's avatar

Giving your child away for adoption is scary. You don’t know what family they are going to end up with. What if they end up in foster care or in different homes every few years. What if their new families abuse them. I am getting an abortion and it is the worst feeling in the world. I saw the heartbeat (not hear it since I’m only 6 weeks) but i just couldn’t stop crying and i still can’t. It’s hard but its the best decision for my age and my situation.

GracieT's avatar

I was adopted as an infant 42 years ago. It was the best thing that EVER could have happened to me. I grew up as the child of two people whom could have no children of their own, but desperately wanted children. My brother and I both were told from young ages that we were adopted but much loved. In fact, as a fifth grade student I told another students that “My parents picked me, yours got stuck with you.” I have nothing to compare it to, but I wouldn’t change anything of my childhood.

chelle21689's avatar

A shallow reason I could think of is because they don’t want their bodies messed up. LOL I’d rather keep the baby that I carried for 9 months than give it up for adoption! No! I’m pro-choice.

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