Americans hate the war…but they love their abortions
I was reading a satirical piece at Den of Hydralisks and encountered a link to some sobering statistics on abortion in the US. Of course, abortion is a tricky issue, and I myself take a somewhat nuanced stance, opposing it except for victims of rape and incest or women whose health is severely threatened by a pregnancy; even in those cases, I think it is a dire decision worth careful consideration. According to the stats at The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (which can be found here), 78% of abortions worldwide take place in developing countries, which, based on my course study of the international political economy of women (a great course offered at BYU), I would largely attribute to poverty, poor sex education, and low access to birth control. Seventy eight percent is a huge piece of pie, but the pie is pretty big: an estimated 46 million abortions are performed worldwide every year. Thus, the developed world is accountable for about 10.1 million unborn babies, and I’m sure the reasons for our abortions are quite different. Of those 10.1 million, the US accounts for about 1.37 million abortions according to 1996 data (has the abortion rate been going up or down since then? I’d guess up, though perhaps not dramatically). To put it in perspective, how many people have died in Iraq? Figures are shaky, but by one estimate, over 655,000 have died as a result, direct or indirect, of the 2003 invasion. That’s an appalling number, and certainly much, much larger than our leaders had anticipated, but guess what: Americans end twice as many lives in a single year.
Now, obviously not all Americans love abortions (just as not all Americans hate the war, despite what the media may try to say), and the figures give an idea of who exactly these aborters are – and let’s not forget that for every pregnant woman, there was an accountable man. Women who have never been married account for 64.4% of US abortions, women under the age of 25 account for 52% (these groups aren’t mutually exclusive, of course), and women with annual family incomes between $30,000 and $60,000 account for 38%, while families making less than $15,000 cover 28.7% of all abortions. The site estimates that by age 45, the average woman in the US will have had 1 abortion at some point in her life; seeing as there are certainly many women who will never have an abortion, this probably means that some women are serial aborters. Now here is what I find especially interesting: 37.4% of abortions are performed on women identified as Protestant, 31.3% are performed on those identified as Catholic, and 23.7% are performed on those claiming no religious affiliation. Thus, supposedly religious people are more inclined to abort than the non-religious! Also, 93% of all abortions are performed for social reasons, rather than for health or abuse reasons, or in other words, they are performed for the sake of convenience or because the baby is simply unwanted. I won’t delve too far into the issue of whether I think abortion should be legal or not here. Suffice it to say that I value personal freedom, but also the right of unborn babies to live, and that, while I would absolutely love for all abortions to stop, the scope of such a wish goes beyond just whether abortion is legal or not. I would just say that there is something disturbing about a worldview – one which is apparently common among a portion of the young, unmarried, religiously-affiliated middle class – that looks at conception and birth as mere unfortunate and troublesome side effects of an otherwise pleasurable act. It sounds like another expression of one of our generation’s favorite philosophies, hedonism. Frankly, all this talk of abortion and our stupid reasons for performing them (it most certainly ain’t necessity!) is getting me down. Lastly, however, I would just say that I’m not the one to judge people in the eternal scheme of things (I still reserve the right to form opinions, though), but whatever the individual circumstances are behind every deliberately-terminated pregnancy, it is just so sad that so many lives are ended before they start. Life is a precious gift from God, and while lives lost in war are no doubt tragic in so many cases, perhaps much more so are those innocent lives taken even before infancy.