Fight Global Warming through More Abortions?

I know the standard line is that abortion-rights supporters are pro-choice, not pro-abortion. Bill Clinton once famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”.
I’ve found at least one person skeptical about the rare part. In an op-ed from yesterday’s Projo, John Seager argues that large numbers of abortions are necessary to prevent global warming…

Globally, at least 350 million couples lack family planning services. Here in the United States, one-third of all births are unplanned. And the Bush administration’s family-planning failures, from its global gag rule against abortion to ideologically driven abstinence-only programs, contribute directly to millions of unwanted and unplanned births. If we could cut in half the number of unwanted births in the U.S. alone, we’d have about 5 million fewer births over 20 years.
Family planning makes sense for people – and for our fragile planet….More people use more energy. If we had zero population growth, part of the global warming problem would, well, melt away.
Mr. Seager is so seventies in combining his blame-America-first ideology with warnings of looming environmental disaster. The United States is 130th on the world fertility ranking list, already at a rate of 2.09 children-per-woman, meaning that our population has already stabilized (when every couple produces two kids, total population doesn’t grow).
The most fertile European country is Albania at 132 (2.03 children-per-woman). The first West European country in fertility ranking is Iceland at 141 (1.92 children-per-woman). And to find a continental West European country on the fertility list, we have to drop down to France at 154 (1.84 children-per-woman, already helping advance Mr. Seager’s goals, by beginning to depopulate itself). Given these numbers, if Mr. Seager is serious about what he says, he needs to focus his efforts on the Third World and tell them they can’t be having so many kids, because they are causing global warming.
(Related question: Anyone care to speculate on whether it’s a positive sign, or a sign of the apocalypse that Afghanistan is now 5th in fertility, at 6.69 children-per-woman?)

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george
george
14 years ago

It depends, what was the fertility rate before the war? Remember poorer countries tend to have higher birth rates.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

So let me get this straight-
1. There is a chance that some forms of human activity may cause the earth to warm signficantly over the course of the next few hundreds of years.
2. This warming MAY result in altering how and where thousands of humans may live hundreds of years from now.
3. The solution to this problem is to encourage the immediate KILLING of thousands of people to reduce the warming that MAY alter where and how humans will live hundreds of years from now.
Here’s the real Inconvenient Truth:
Abortion is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide that employs thousands of people.
Abortion supporters can talk about how it is tragic that abortion must exist or how it should be rare and many everyday people might agree.
However, the “inconvenient truth” is that most women who actually seek an abortion have had an abortion before and are using it as a form of birth control. Most abortion providers are making money from the procedure and want to see it become a rarity as much as General Motors would like to build a car that never needs to be replaced.
As always, follow the money.

george
george
14 years ago

“However, the “inconvenient truth” is that most women who actually seek an abortion have had an abortion before and are using it as a form of birth control. Most abortion providers are making money from the procedure and want to see it become a rarity as much as General Motors would like to build a car that never needs to be replaced.”
Can you actually back up any of what you said?

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

I think your selective bolding might be a bit uncharitable (although I admit I didn’t read anything other than your excerpt).
Certainly, the Bush administration’s anti-contraception policies lead to more unplanned and unwanted births, which contributes to over-population, etc, etc. The anti-abortion policies are a part of the problem, but it would be disingenuous to claim that abortion is the solution to global warming, and it would be unreasonable to interpret the passage you’ve quoted as advocating that.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

George, Sure. On the financial numbers part, I’m using AGI’s own numbers. AGI, if you’re not familiar, is The Alan Guttmacher Institute (www.guttmacher.org), which is Planned Parenthood’s own research arm. Using their 2000 stats, AGI estimates that there were 1.31 million abortions performed in the U.S. in the year 2000. Of the 1.31 million annual abortions, approximately 90% (1.18 million) were performed during the first trimester. The other 10% (131,000) were performed during the second and third trimester. The National Coalition of Abortion Providers tells us that the average 1st trimester abortion costs between $350-$650. The Women’s Medical Center stats estimate that a 2nd trimester abortion costs up to $3000 (with the price increasing the further along the pregnancy goes). If we take a $500 average for 1st trimester abortions and use a $3000 average for 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions, here’s what we get: $590 million are spent each year on first trimester abortions and $393 million are spent on late term abortions. That means that each year in the U.S., the abortion industry brings in approximately $983 million through their abortion services alone. If you add in the $273 million that Planned Parenthood (America’s single largest abortion provider) receives annually in government grants and contracts, the annual dollar amount moves well past 1 billion. This is for the United States alone. On the assertion that most women receiving abortions are having repeat abortions, I’m once again using AGI stats with some common sense. According to AGI’s November 2006 report “Repeat Abortion in the United States” approximately half of all abortions performed in the US are repeat abortions. However, data was not collected from CA, DC, LA and FL. As AGI itself recognizes, these states tend to have some of the highest rates of repeat abortions. While AGI say… Read more »

Justin Katz
14 years ago

MRH,
What are “anti-contraception policies”?

Andrew
14 years ago

Mr H,
1. Seager says “there has never been much public discussion about the role of human population growth in global warming” in his 1st paragraph.
Then he tells us that “It’s time to open a ‘second front’ in the battle against global warming by stressing the need for population stabilization, sooner rather than later”.
His conclusion is “if every child is planned, we’ll go a long way toward solving global warming and making a less-crowded and healthier world”.
It’s safe to say the op-ed is about the relationship between population growth and global warming.
2. Seager consistently talks about using “family planning” — not “birth control” — to reduce population growth, which will reduce global warming. Examples: he says things like “we know that family planning works everywhere. When women and couples are free to make their own informed choices and have access to family planning resources, they choose to have smaller families” and “Globally, at least 350 million couples lack family planning services”.
3. Then, when criticizing what he views as the Bush administration’s failures in family planning policy, Seager argues that insufficient advocacy for abortion is part of what is contributing “directly to millions of unwanted and unplanned births”.
Seager is the one arguing that more talking-up of abortion should be part of family planning, because it will help reduce population growth, which will reduce global warming. These are his ideas, not mine. Don’t shoot the messenger.

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

If we could cut in half the number of unwanted births in the U.S. alone, we’d have about 5 million fewer births over 20 years.

As if a million abortions annually is not enough… sadly though, this is not the first time I have seen abortion linked to environmental activism. Sooner or later, he will become bold enough to suggest the U.S. should follow China’s lead in limiting couples to one child each and enforced abortion for those that don’t comply.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

Justin: What are “anti-contraception policies”?
I had in mind things like “abstinence-only” education.
Andrew: Seager consistently talks about using “family planning” — not “birth control” —
For my money, “family planning” is more or less a synonym or superset of “birth control.” (Wikipedia seems to agree.) Any rational person prefers to regulate family size and birth rates by preventing pregnancy, but it’s reasonable to include the ability to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in family planning discussions.
I went back and read the editorial. By my count, he uses the word “abortion” once. I understand that, if you’re anti-abortion, it might raise a red flag, but I maintain that the charitable (and most likely) interpretation is that the writer favors increased access to all family planning methods, of which abortion is only the last resort.
If I thought Seager was arguing that the best way to achieve Zero Population Growth was by increasing access to abortion, I’d agree with you that he’d be an idiot. My read of the editorial is that he thinks the best way to slow population growth is to expand access to all forms of “family planning.”

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

I will say, in fairness, that it’s a pretty lame editorial.

seand
seand
14 years ago

Very sophisticated argument you have here. It does, however, use a rather innovative rule of inference:
1) John Seager implied that it might be better if abortion were not rare. [Premise]
2) John Seager is a liberal [Premise]
3) Liberals in general do not believe that should be rare [By Liberal Universalization, which licenses inference from the claim that one liberal believes something to the claim that all or most liberals believe it]
Brilliant!

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

I had in mind things like “abstinence-only” education.

Are you sure you want to go that far out on the limb to say that abstinence is not a contraceptive? It happens to be the ONLY 100% effective contraceptive. All others have a built in degree of failure.

ann
ann
14 years ago

If there’s nothing wrong with them, why did Bill Clinton hope for rare amounts of abortions? And what did he do to help make abortions less frequent?
Also, too many American women know from their personal medical histories that legal abortions are not always safe. Not physically nor psychologically.
All it is is legal – and very very sad.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

SMM:
Are you sure you want to go that far out on the limb to say that abstinence is not a contraceptive? It happens to be the ONLY 100% effective contraceptive. All others have a built in degree of failure.
Actually, I think most sexuality experts agree that we simply don’t know what the failure rate of “abstinence” is. If a couple of “using abstinence” as their method of contraception, but then break down (or slip up) and have sex, their method of contraception has failed. We don’t know what the average rate of failure is.
I’m all for teaching that not having sex is a great way to avoid pregnancy — I’d just like to see other methods taught as well. But now I think we’re getting a little far afield from the original topic.
Ann:
If there’s nothing wrong with them, why did Bill Clinton hope for rare amounts of abortions?
Probably for roughly the same reason we hope for rare amounts of open-heart surgeries.

Andrew
14 years ago

SeanD,
No one has attributed anything to “liberals”, and in fact, no one has used the word liberal (except for you) in the main post, or in any of the comments preceding yours.
I’d work on basic literacy, before trying to move to advanced logic.

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

Are you a comedian in real life mrh? If a couple have sex, then they aren’t using abstinence to prevent pregnancy. There is no failure rate for abstinence. The failure you are talking about is the couple’s failure to use abstinence, not the failure of abstinence to work.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

SMM:
No! But I’m glad you think I’m funny. I’ll take that as a compliment.
I know it sounds weird, but it is sensible. Surely you’ll admit that many people who use no contraception, and plan to abstain from sex, eventually have sex, and some of them become pregnant. Couples using abstinence can fail, and become pregnant. That’s what I’m talking about.
I will grant that abstinence, when observed with complete rigor, probably does have 100% effectiveness. However, complete abstinence is tough to do, unrealistic to expect, and I don’t think it’s the government’s job to tell people not to have sex.
What does “smm” stand for?

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

However, complete abstinence is tough to do, unrealistic to expect, and I don’t think it’s the government’s job to tell people not to have sex.

NO, complete abstinence is not tough to do (though it’s a lot easier without people in the position of public trust suggesting to everybody that having sex is inevitable and glorifying lack of chastity), and it is not unrealistic to expect, and I don’t think it’s the government’s job to afix a stamp of approval to having sex outside of marriage. And that’s how I view mandatory sex education classes.
as an aside though it has nothing to do with this discussion smm stands for static multi-state matrix, although single magic marker conveys almost the same idea.

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