Opinion: Abortion revisited

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By Alex Dunkel

Abortion – normally a taboo subject for DI columnists and many others, but apparently, an important topic nationwide. After all, it was part of the reason why we re-elected our president. For that reason, I’ll dare to address it, trying to focus on as many non-traditional arguments as possible. If this sparks a s*** storm, then let it fly. Key issues should be discussed, not ignored.

Many see abortion as a women’s rights issue. Personally, I agree with this stance wholeheartedly. However, I won’t discuss that side of the argument here. That dead horse has been beaten into glue. Instead, let’s focus on something much more tangible.

A popular number thrown around by conservatives is the 1.4 million deaths per year that result from abortions. I’m not sure if anyone’s ever bothered to do the math, but an additional 1.4 million children annually would create a significant population increase in the United States. According to some anti-abortion groups, more than 43 million abortions have been performed since Roe v. Wade was decided more than 30 years ago. Undoubtedly, all or most of these 43 million children would’ve grown up to create both wanted and unwanted pregnancies of their own, exacerbating our existing population-growth problems.

Many people have claimed that our population is declining. Most of these people have heard this from news sources that don’t know (or care to report) the difference between “rate of growth” and “rate of population increase.” If our rate of increase declines, it does not mean that our population is shrinking. It just means that our population is growing at a slower rate. Sometimes, I suspect that certain people distort the numbers – not out of ignorance, but to express their concerns about immigration and the decline in the percentage of the white majority. But I digress …

Here are the facts. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, in 2004, the United States had 14.13 births per 1,000 people. The death rate was 8.34 per 1,000 people. On top of that, there are 3.41 migrants per 1,000 people. Overall, our population growth is 0.92 percent, which sounds small, but given a population of 293 million, that yields 2.7 million more people per year. Just imagine adding another 1.4 million people from unwanted pregnancies to that total.

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We, of all nations, do not need a larger population. We already are the world’s greatest consumers, many times over. Our insatiable appetites both for material wealth and food have left much of the world in dire need. Adding a few more million to our population only will amplify our problems, both here and abroad.

To some degree, those extra 1.4 million lives wouldn’t have as big of an impact, because many of them would be born to teenage mothers, poor families and welfare mothers. This might seem ironic, because the population explosion would increase the need for welfare – something conservatives oppose.

I’ve recently learned that some anti-abortion groups put significant funds into helping save unwanted pregnancies by covering medical care and adoption costs. However, could this be sustained for another 1.4 million unwanted pregnancies each year? Furthermore, could the adoption market absorb those millions of extra children annually? Personally, I doubt it. Maybe if same-sex couples were allowed to adopt, that might make those hopes more viable, but because anti-abortion groups also oppose same-sex rights, they’ve limited the number of potential adopters. Sadly, their inflexibility and intolerance will hurt the anti-abortion cause.

Similar to conservatives, I value life – both human and non-human. However, that love for life must be tempered with an understanding of ecosystems. If our system is not sustainable, many more lives will suffer or cease.

The human population is growing out of control. The materialistic wants and wasteful practices of U.S. citizens also are growing out of control. Nearly everything about our way of life is not sustainable. Adding to our population by banning abortion only creates more cracks in a failing system.

Alex Dunkel is a University employee. His column runs alternate Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected].