Global Warming and Abortion

This is not a good combination: political power united to scientific claims of imminent doom.

Dr. Nayna Patel (R) conducts an ultrasound at Kaival Hospital in Anand, India, Oct. 31, 2011.
Dr. Nayna Patel (R) conducts an ultrasound at Kaival Hospital in Anand, India, Oct. 31, 2011. (photo: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GettyImages)

Certainly, everyone has heard of global warming, but too few are aware of its connection to the advocacy of abortion. Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders has already made the connection publicly: Global warming is an imminent environmental catastrophe; increasing world population greatly increases CO2 emissions; therefore, abortion is needed to reduce the population.

A significant group of scientists have made the same connection. In a BioScience journal article, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” readers are informed that,

Still increasing by roughly 80 million people per year, or more than 200,000 per day, the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity. There are proven and effective policies that strengthen human rights while lowering fertility rates and lessening the impacts of population growth on Green House Gas emissions and biodiversity loss. These policies            make family-planning services available to all people, remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity, including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women.

It doesn’t take much reading between the flowery lines to understand the real message. Alongside Bernie and others like him, these scientists are advocating abortion as a means to reduce population, one that must be understood in its urgency in light of a “climate emergency.”

That is not a good combination: political power united to scientific claims of imminent doom. Given the increasing intensity of the scientific community’s warnings about how little time we have to escape global catastrophe caused by global warming, it’s clear that the push for decreasing world population via abortion will increase in intensity proportionally.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Michael Brune, the current executive director of the Sierra Club, one of the powerful environmental groups, has stated quite publicly that abortion “helps to address the number of people that we have on this planet. We feel that one of the ways in which we can get to a sustainable population is to empower women to make choices about their own families.”

So, what does the pro-life movement have to fear from the fervent advocacy of global warming? A whole lot, if the past is any indication of what will happen in the future.

That doesn’t mean that we should confuse the scientific debate about global warming with the advocacy of abortion for population control — that’s the error of the other side. The two must be detached, a lesson we can learn from history that will make us deeply aware of the terrible worldwide damage done a half-century ago by those who linked the alleged ‘impending global catastrophe of overpopulation’ with the ‘need’ for abortion.

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and as will become clear, we don’t want to repeat it.

For readers who want to learn more deeply about what I’m now going to summarize, I cannot recommend highly enough Mara Hvistendahl’s Unnatural Selection. Importantly, Hvistendahl is not on the pro-life side (at least, not yet). That means her work cannot easily be dismissed by abortion advocates.

As a feminist, Hvistendahl came to study the ill-effects of the population control movement in the latter half of the 20th century because the most “efficient” means of reducing population by those who thought we were facing imminent global catastrophe through overpopulation was sex-selective abortion of females.

The first startling evidence she discovered of the connection between population control advocacy and sex-selective abortion was the obvious effect: when you abort more females in the womb, then you end up with more males in the population.

The natural ratio of boys to girls is about 105 to 100; that is, for every 100 girls born, there are 105 boys born. Since boys and men are more inclined toward dangerous activities, we end up with a natural male to female ratio of about 1 to 1.

Unless something unnatural intervenes, such as the intentional abortion of females. Then you end up with skewed ratios of males to females in the population, such as 112 to 100 in India or 121 to 100 China. In particular areas of China, the ratio was even more out of whack. In Suining it was 152 males to 100 females; in Lianyungang, 163 to 100; in Tianmen, 176 to 100.

When you know what the ratio of men to women should be by nature, it’s a rather simple calculation to figure out how many females have been eliminated to skew the ratios. In 1990, the Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen did just that, in his wake-up article, “More than 100 Million Women are Missing.”

Missing? Dead. Aborted in a two-decade long campaign to drastically reduce the world’s population so as to avoid the imminent catastrophe predicted by politicians, scientists and environmental advocacy groups.

Why target females? Simply put, fewer females means fewer women having babies. Simple but evil — and the evil was accepted, in fact deemed necessary, because of the perceived imminent threat that was sure to be brought about by population increase. Hence the Machiavellian calculus: the end of delivering us from predicted global catastrophe justified the means of aborting females as the fastest way to reduce population worldwide.

Scientists led the way, whipping up a kind of popular frenzy about the predicted impending doom. To take the most famous, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich was obsessed by the increase in population. After hearing one of his talks on the threat of population increase, the Sierra Club — yes, the same Sierra Club mentioned above — paid Ehrlich to write his sensational bestseller The Population Bomb.

Published in 1968, it famously began, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…” The problem, Ehrlich informed readers, was that people in India and Asia were “multiplying like rabbits.”

Mass starvation. Riots. The complete breakdown of political order. After outlining the inevitable worldwide horror that he assured everyone was coming in the very next decade, Ehrlich turned to an any-means-necessary approach to keeping even more doom at bay. Declared Ehrlich, “if a simple method could be found to guarantee that first-born children were males, then population control problems in many areas would be somewhat eased.”

To decode Ehrlich’s words, demographers found that couples who want sons will keep having babies until they get one, hence increasing the population. The wished-for “guarantee” of a first-born child being a male really meant something quite dark for Ehrlich and others like him: the identification in the womb of female children who could be aborted, so that the first un-aborted child would be the desired male.

The quest thus turned to solving the problem of identifying the sex within the womb so the females could be aborted. The doubly-dark payoff which enthused population control advocates was, as I noted above, that reducing females also decreases the number of women having babies in the future. Sex-selective abortion would therefore provide a double “cure” for the evils of the population explosion.

Unsurprisingly, Planned Parenthood (under the guidance of Alan Guttmacher) joined the cause, knowingly accepting and hence promoting sex-selective abortions worldwide. The international scientific group the Club of Rome and the Population Council bought in as well, as did President Lyndon B. Johnson and our government’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. All threw themselves into the task of figuring out a way to determine whether a baby in the womb was male or female, so that they could push sex-selective abortion, especially in India and Asia.

That way was provided by the new ultrasound technology. Invented in the late 1950s, it came into widespread clinical use by the 1970s. Population control advocates realized that ultrasound provided exactly what they were looking for — a way to identify females in the womb so that they could be aborted.

By the 1980s ultrasound was used for precisely that. When General Electric realized the enormous economic advantages of cashing in on the population bomb scare, it began mass-producing portable ultrasound machines in the 1990s that could be hooked up to equally portable computers. The macabre benefit: portability meant being able to take the ultrasound to areas outside cities in China and India, hence increasing the number of abortions immensely. Despite protestations to the contrary, GE knew its cash cow was being used by countries bent on drastically reducing their population by aborting females.

So it was that sex-selective abortion of females skyrocketed in the latter half of the 20th century, and that’s why demographers began to wonder why “more than 100 million women are missing.” The answer was sex-selective abortions, the chosen means by which we were saved from further overpopulation catastrophes that scientists and politicians assured us were going to come in the 1970s.

Except that they didn’t. Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers were dead wrong. Nothing happened. We passed through the 1970s without any of their horrifying predictions of the scientists, population experts, environmentalists, and politicians coming true. But well over 100 million women had been killed nonetheless.

If we don’t recognize the obvious parallel now in regard to those scientists, experts, environmentalists, and politicians who declare that we are facing an unprecedented global catastrophe in the next couple of decades, and that abortion is a necessary means to avert that catastrophe, then we have learned nothing from history.

And that’s not even the end of the history lesson, as we’ll find out in second part of this series.