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The ultimate guide to why abortion is wrong, and how to argue in favor of life

Part 8: ‘We need abortion because the world is too overpopulated.’

By Randy Alcorn

Killing people is not the solution to our world’s future.

In the 1960s, there was a widespread fear that the world was swarming with people and that we were quickly running out of space. Many people are very concerned about this today. Yet it’s been calculated that the entire world population of 7 billion people could be placed in one gigantic city within the borders of the state of Texas, with a smaller population density than many cities around the world.(1) The rest of the globe would be completely empty of people. (Of course, this doesn’t account for the land that would be needed in addition to produce food and resources. It simply demonstrates that the living space occupied by seven billion people is considerably less than is imagined.)

Does this mean there is no overcrowding and that our resources are infinite? Of course not. The world is full of problems, including poverty and star­vation. But studies consistently show that enough food is presently produced to feed every person on the planet, including the projected worldwide population of 10 billion by 2050.[2]

The problem of starvation is caused by a combination of many factors, including natural disasters, wars, lack of technology, misuse of resources, waste, greed, government inefficiency, and failure to distribute food properly. None of these has a direct cause and effect link to overpopulation. It is simplistic and inaccurate to attribute most of our global problems to overpopu­lation.

U.S. Birthrate Below Replacement Level

Consider the current birthrate in America, which is less than what is needed to maintain our population level. In 1957 the average American woman in her reproductive years bore 3.7 children. Taking into account all causes of death and the increases in average life span, zero population growth requires that the average woman bear 2.1 children.

The fertility rate first fell below replacement levels in 1972. Since then, there have only been two years where the fertility rate has reached at least 2.1 children.[3] That means for several decades, we’ve been below zero population growth. The sociological perils we face are not those of population explosion, but population reduction.

Any increases in population since 1972 have been due to immigration, which we can see from statistics (immigration is largely good, so this isn’t meant as a statement against it; just clarifying the facts). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, every 17 seconds, the U.S. population grows by about one person. [4] USA Today reports that approximately 7.9 million people immigrated to the United States between 2000 and 2005.[5] The age expectancy is also rising, and people are living longer than ever before.

In their article on the issue of abortion and overpopulation, Abort73 says:

While birth rates have decreased, immigration and life expectancy has increased. Of the three factors that influence population growth, the number of babies being born is by far the least significant. And yet, does anyone suggest that killing immigrants or killing those over 65 is a reasonable way to limit population growth? No. So why would anyone suggest that killing unborn humans is a reasonable way to limit population growth?[6]

The Threat of a Declining Population

Population decrease isn’t only an issue for the United States. It is a serious threat to the social and economic prosperity of many countries. Most western European countries are now experiencing economic problems that their governments attribute to population reduction. Several countries around the world, including Germany, Singapore, Japan, and Russia, even offer prospective parents incentives for having a baby.[7] Why would a government pay its people to have children? Because it recognizes that all societies need a continuous influx of the young in order to remain healthy.

Steven W. Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute (PRI), says:

Contrary to what you might hear, the most pressing problem in country after country today is not overpopulation, but underpopulation.  In a time of fiscal austerity, the last thing that we need to be doing is spending more tax dollars to drive down the birth rate, reducing the amount of human capital available, and making us all poorer in the long run.[8]

 

The problem of a shrinking population propagates itself. Because today’s women have fewer children, there will be fewer parents tomorrow, resulting in still fewer children. Fewer and fewer people having fewer and fewer children adds up to dying societies.

Legalized abortion has resulted in over 50 million fewer taxpayers in America to support the elderly. An article for the National Public Radio explains that “In many countries, including the U.S., workers pay for retirees’ pensions. Fewer kids means fewer workers funding those pensions.”[ix]

The future of Social Security is in peril because there are less workers to support it: “Currently, fewer than three workers support each retiree, down from 50 years ago, when it was four to one. This ratio is projected to drop to two to one within the next 20 years.”[x]

Of course, abortion would be morally wrong even if it were financially profitable for the country. But the point is, it is not only morally wrong, but ultimately, also financially unprofitable. By eliminating a large percentage of entire generations through legalized abortion, we’ve only compounded our societal problems, not solved them.

The Wrong “Solution”

It’s true that among pro-lifers there is honest debate about contraceptive use and the degree to which people should strive to control the size of their families. But on the matter of controlling family size by killing a family member, we all ought to agree. Solutions based on killing people are not acceptable.

Having endorsed abortion as a means of decreasing the number of young, will society be compelled to use euthanasia as a means of reducing the old? If back in the 1980s the governor of Colorado could tell old people they have a duty to “step aside” (die), what will happen twenty years from now? If the elderly don’t step aside, will society begin setting them aside? (That’s an honest concern about today’s so-called “death with dignity” laws, pushing physician-assisted suicide in several U.S. states.)

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop publicly stated his fear that mandatory euthanasia would eventually result from the unwillingness of the younger generation to support the elderly. He said, “My fear is that one day for every Baby Doe in America, there will be ten thousand Grandma Does.”

We should recognize that human beings are responsible for stewarding the earth and the natural resources we have available to us. So by all means, let’s pursue smarter, better ways for people to wisely manage their resources, produce food, and reduce poverty. But let’s not buy into the lie that killing unborn children is the solution for our world’s future.

 

[1] “Episode 1: Overpopulation: The Making of a Myth,” OverPopulation is a Myth, https://overpopulationisamyth.com/overpopulation-the-making-of-a-myth.

[2] Eric Holt Gimenez, “We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger,” The Huffington Post, May 2, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-holt-gimenez/world-hunger_b_1463429.html.

[3] “Fertility rate, total (births per woman)”, The World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?locations=US&name_desc=true.

[4] U.S. POPClock Projection, http://www.census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html (Sep 1, 2011)

[5] Haya El Nasser and Kathy Kiely, “Study: Immigration grows, reaching record numbers” USA Today, December 12, 2005, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-12-12-immigration_x.htm.

[6] “Common Abortion Fallacies,” Abort73.com, http://abort73.com/abortion/common_objections.

[7] Justin Worland, “How 4 Other Countries Are Trying to Get People to Make Babies,” Time, October 29, 2015, http://time.com/4092915/one-child-china-aging/.

[8] “Celebrate 7 Billion People With Us,” Christian News Wire, October 19, 2011, http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2632818048.html

[ix] Robert Smith, “When Governments Pay People To Have Babies,” National Public Radio, November 3, 2011, http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/11/03/141943008/when-governments-pay-people-to-have-babies.

[x] “The future of Social Security and you,” Fidelity Investments, May 20, 2016, https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/social-security-future

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