The 'Big Tent' Case Against Abortion


By Leon J. Podles

INSIGHT | April 22, 1996


The 'Big Tent' Case Against Abortion
By Leon J. Podles

Morality — what is right and wrong in itself—is at the center of the abortion debate. But most Americans, however much they dislike abortion, dislike thinking about it even more, since it raises spiritual issues that are difficult to debate in the framework of American politics. However, private actions such as smoking and abortion have public consequences. Does abortion affect not only the soul of America and Americans, but also their pocketbooks and the long-term economic health of the nation?


In The Cost of Abortion (Four Winds, 78 pp), Lawrence Roberge has gathered and analyzed statistics on the number of abortions and the correlation between abortion and the evidence of national decline. He establishes that abortion has been undercounted and reminds us that the economic effects of abortion cannot be calculated simply from the 1.3 million or more abortions performed each year but on the cumulative number of abortions during the last 20 years. Even using low figures for the abortion rate, more than 28.5 million Americans were "missing" by 1992 because of abortion.


According to Roberge, the frequency of abortion leads to lower birth rates, a decline in fertility, a decline in adoption and an increase in medical complications such as Asherman's syndrome. This disease is caused by tissue adhesions in the uterus brought on by the dilation and curettage method of abortion and may lead to miscarriage and recto pregnancy. Abortion also has been implicated in breast cancer. If the government and social pressure can discourage smoking and even forbid it in many areas, what about another practice that creates health problems whose treatment often is financed by the public?


The children missing from the national community because of abortion immediately affect the number of jobs for teachers, Roberge says, so it is ironic that the National Education Association supports abortion. As the missing children grew older, they would have become both producers and consumers and contributed to the gross domestic product, or GDR Their economic activity would contribute to personal income, which then would have been taxed to run the government. Roberge's graphs and tables show a startling correlation between the number of cumulative abortions and declines in GDP and personal income and consequent growth in the federal deficit. These missing citizens would have been available to defend the country and to support retirees through Social Security taxes.


Under the present low fertility rate, the United States would stop growing and see a decline in population by the middle of the next century — were it not for immigration, often touted as an answer to the "birth dearth." But cumulative immigration since 1971 has replaced less than half the potential people whose citizenship during the same period was foreclosed at the abortion border. Only massive immigration could have replaced these "missing persons" — on a scale that would have created severe problems of assimilation. A declining native-born population has even greater difficulty in assimilating immigrants, because some anti-immigrant feeling is rooted in the perception that native-born Americans are not replacing themselves and fear that the country either must decline in population and vitality or else accept large numbers of immigrants.


Hospitality begins at home, with the willingness to accept the little strangers that show up with only nine months' notice. It may be argued that people who are hostile to the idea of having children are not going to welcome aliens to whom they have no ties of blood, affection or culture. All European countries are facing the collapse of their social-security systems because of the lack of new workers. These nations either can accept massive immigration and risk turning their countries into Lebanons or Bosnias or risk bankruptcy and the social disruptions that may revive the political quackery of the thirties.

Much of the pressure for euthanasia of the elderly is based economically, as it was when Adolf Hitler's regime decided to rid itself of the drag of "useless eaters." When smaller and smaller cohorts of the productive young have to support larger and larger cohorts of the retired, ill and incapacitated, something has to give, and the respect for life already has been undermined by abortion. Federal judges already have pointed out that the constitutional right to abortion, that is, to destroy a life, a fortiori implies a right to assisted suicide, the right to destroy one's own life.


The real wealth of a nation is not in its roads and factories but in its people, a fact not unknown to Washington and Jefferson. In the late 1700s the United States boasted the highest fertility rate known, a source of boundless American energy and optimism. Destroying the young is suicidal, because the young are neither passive recipients of governmental largess nor drones who need government-engineered jobs but the sources of energy and wealth that sustain a nation and give it the surplus to care for the sick and old. Present and future presidents intent on "growing the economy" please take note.


Leon J. Podles is the author of the forthcoming book The Castration of Christianity: Why Men Think Religion is Effeminate.