Impact of Abortion on Society

The economic cost of abortion

Before abortion law reform, abortion advocates argued that legalising abortion would have a positive effect on society. After several decades most of these predictions have proven false.

  • Rather than giving women more freedom, abortion has led to expoiltation by men who no longer want the responsibility of providing for their children.
  • Some men feel they have been disenfranchised and powerless as they have no legal rights when it comes to abortion.
  • Abortion has not decreased the crime rate as advocates claimed would happen, the opposite is true.
  • Abortion of unwanted babies has not led to fewer victims of child abuse as claimed, numbers are in fact on the increase.
  • Opponents said legalising abortion would be the slippery slope to the acceptance of infanticide and euthanasia, this has happened.
Advocates of abortion and early activists seeking abortion law reform, used arguments designed to persuade people that abortion would be beneficial for women in particular, and society as a whole.

Abortion was supposed to empower women, free them from the rigours of childbearing and the drudgery of housework, and enable them to achieve an equal place with men in the workforce.

Several decades later many women are wondering when this freedom, empowerment and equality is going to have a positive impact on their lives.

Women appear to be the losers when it comes to abortion.

In the 1960s the birth control pill was promoted as a way in which women could be equal with men, having all the pleasure of sex whenever they wanted, without the fear of consequences. One unexpected early side-effect of 'The Pill' was that some women died. Researchers found that lowering the dose of oestrogen and progesterone reduced the risk of deep-vein blood clots that gave rise to pulmonary-embolisms. Read more about birth control and abortion here.

A woman's problem
The lower-dose pill, however, meant that there were a number of 'break-through' ovulations each year, and despite the Pill working to alter the lining of the womb some of the embryos attached and thrived. Men who wanted sex without any obligations put pressure on women to have an abortion - it was, after all, safe and legal.

For many girls and women, this was the final death of romance for them - Prince Charming had turned out to be a toad who only wanted to use them, or rather, their bodies. Women who chose not to have an abortion often found themselves abandoned by the man and faced the hard life of a single parent.

Single parenthood has been said to be the single most indicator of poverty for a woman. New Zealand has the developed world's second highest percentage of single parent families. Lack of support, especially of adequate day care, has been one of the toughest barriers a single working mother has had to face, although there are signs that this is changing. Read more here.

Having to come to terms an increasing lack of romance and with reduced prospects of marriage with men who preferred sex without strings, women retaliated. Women, finally buying the 'equality' message began to indulge in uncommitted relationships while putting their energies into building a career and enjoying the 'party life.'

Freely available abortion as a back-up to birth control has meant a woman can - and has - chosen to delay childbearing and/or marriage until her mid-30s. A consequence of this delayed childbearing has seen many infertile women/couples having to resort to Fertility Clinics for help. Read more about abortion and infertility here.

In a study of 100 women carried out by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the US (75 of whom were married or in committed relationships), 46% agreed that the abortion provoked a major crisis in their lives which was frequently followed by an unstable marital or social relationship.4

Other studies put the figure of relationship breakdowns as high as 70% in the first 12 months following abortion. This is particularly found with unmarried relationships, or when the husband either did not know in advance or objected to the abortion.

Abortion and men
Abortion has also had a negative effect on men.

Except in China, a man, married or otherwise, has no legal right to force a woman either to have an abortion or to bear his child. This has led to many men complaining that not only has this left them disenfranchised (deprived of a legal right), it has caused many to experience a feeling of powerlessness, especially when the father has offered to raise the child himself. Read more about men and abortion here.

The traditional role of men has been to provide and protect. Abortion has fractured that role for many men, leaving them confused as to what their role now is. With the advent of in vitro fertilisation and many single women choosing motherhood but not marriage, many men see themselves as no more than 'sperm donors.' Some men are quite happy to accept this role but others are resentful.

Men who pressure the mother of their child to submit to an abortion often later feel as though they have violated an important and fundamental part of a man's nature - i.e. to defend and protect his child. This can become apparent later in life as maturity causes him to look back at his actions.

Another effect of this breaking down the barriers is that, having already violated his nature by asking or allowing a woman to have an act of violence kill his child, he feels less restraint at inflicting violence on her or others. Rates of domestic violence and child abuse have risen since the legalisation or decriminalisation of abortion.

Abortion and children
One of the main arguments abortion advocates used was that unwanted children were victims of child abuse, and were more likely to grow up to be criminals. In America the National Abortion Rights Action League, now NARAL Pro-Choice America, stated:

"A policy that makes contraception and abortion freely available will greatly reduce the number of unwanted children, and thereby curb the tragic rise of child abuse in our country ... Legal abortion will decrease the number of unwanted children, battered children, child abuse cases, and possibly subsequent delinquency, drug addiction, and a host of social ills believed to be associated with neglectful parenthood."1

Larry Lader, a co-founder of NARAL and an early abortion activist, said, "The impact of the abortion revolution may be too vast to assess immediately. It should usher in an era when every child will be wanted, loved, and properly cared for; when the incidence of infanticides and battered children should be sharply reduced."2

Opponent have pointed out that history has shown the opposite to have occured. Children, they say, are now viewed as property, a product and a 'right', not a unique human being or a 'blessing.'. They believe that the widespread practice of infanticide of born children in hospitals, and parental abuse, are an inevitable flow-on from what they call the wholesale abuse of unborn children.

Dr. Philip G. Ney, head of the Department of Psychiatry at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Canada, has outlined some psychological mechanisms showing how abortion leads directly to child abuse.
  1. Abortion decreases an individual's instinctual restraint against the occasional rage felt toward those dependent on his or her care.
  2. Permissive abortion diminishes the taboo against aggressing [against] the defenseless.
  3. Abortion increases the hostility between the generations.
  4. Abortion has devalued children, thus diminishing the value of caring for children.
  5. Abortion increases guilt and self-hatred, which the parent takes out on the child.
  6. Abortion increases hostile frustration, intensifying the battle of the sexes, for which children are scapegoated.
  7. Abortion cuts the developing mother-infant bond, thereby diminishing her future mothering capability. 3
The US National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect, has reported that child abuse increased more than 1,000 percent since the legalisation of abortion in 1973.

In New Zealand in 2004, figures from Child Youth and Family showed that the Department received ten thousand calls more than the year before, and were concerned that there was a rise in the number of suspected critical cases.

A September 2003 UNICEF report said that New Zealand's rate of child deaths from maltreatment is now 1.2 per 100,000. This is more than four times the first world average.

Abortion's effect on 'Generation Y'
Abortion is an accepted part of the culture for what is known as the millennial generation or 'Generation Y' (those born in 1978 or later). This generation has grown up with legal abortion and in many case have, in some way or another, been affected by it.

There is hardly anyone today who has not been touched by abortion, even those who have not had an abortion themselves usually know of a family member or friend who has ahd one. Many teenagers have seen the sometimes devastating effect abortion has had on a friend whose behaviour has changed, who avoids former friends, is very emotional and who may have become suicidal.

An even greater way teenagers have been affected by abortion is when they find out that their mother has had an abortion. It occurs to them that the aborted sibling could just as easily have been them. It is estimated that between one in three and one in five of this generation have been aborted. Many of these teens have come to regard them selves as 'abortion survivors' and feel a burden of expectation that is hard to live up to.

Abortion can impede mother-child bonding in subsequent pregnancies. This can distort the relationship through many years and contribute to many of the problems seen in this generation which has described itself as lost, empty, and no good.

The breakdown in a relationship following an abortion usually has a harmful effect on a woman's future relationships. One affect abortion has on women is that they become increasingly hostile towards men. The mother may vent this hostility toward a son as he grows older.

A relationship breakdown leads to many children growing up in homes where the adult male is not their biological father and who may not have a strong interest in their welfare. This can confuse the process of male identification in young men. When men have experienced the absence of their father when growing up, they fear intimacy.

Girls are also seriously affected by the loss of their biological father. If the father leaves they grow up in a home where they are poorly protected from other "sexually opportunistic males in the surrounding community." Read A Wounded Generation.

The effects of fatherlessness
  • 71% of teenage pregnancies are to children of single parents
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes 5
Falling birth rates
New Zealand's birth rate is declining and, like most developed countries, is below the level that is required for replacement. With gains from immigration, this has not yet had a significant impact on the economy of the country, but economists are beginning to show some concern.

It has been estimated that New Zealand will need between 30-40,000 immigrants each year to maintain the status quo. Australian economist Wolfgang Kasper wrote a paper "Populate or Languish," which was distributed by the New Zealand Business Round Table. He claimed:
People who now save for their old age implicitly hope that sufficient workers and customers will be around to make their investments pay in 30 years' time. With a declining population, many will be disappointed.

Should the population decline, they will discover that their savings capital, if invested in New Zealand, has a low productivity and a poor return. And they make this discovery only when they are old and can no longer cope well with such disappointments.


Read New Zealand's Demographic Decline and Economic Growth

As birthrates in Europe, Asia and Latin America have also fallen, countries on those continents are also looking to immigration to boost population numbers. These countries will all be competing for the same pool of suitable immigrants.

Population growth is a major source of economic growth. More people create more demand for products and services and supply labour that is need by industry and commerce.

There is evidence to suggest that an aging or greying population works to depress the rate of technological innovation and entrepreneurship. Older populations are seen to reflect the normal characteristics of older people. They become more security conscious, less progressive and dynamic, more rigid in their ways.

Many countries facing a 'birth dearth' have begun offering generous incentives for couples to have more children. Read more about the "Global consequences of the falling birth rate" here.

Abortion and economic growth
Since 1978, there have been 280-300,000 abortions in New Zealand. As the cumulative numbers of abortion rise, the yearly impact on the economy will increase.

In the 22 years up to 1999 there were an estimated 200,000 abortions. These missing consumers have meant fewer sales of many products and services over the years, such as disposable nappies, toys, shoes, clothes, school books, weetbix and Happy Meals. It has meant a reduced need for such things as teachers, cars and houses. While immigration levels have kept figures up, this will not always be the case.

In 1999 there were 15,501 abortions. In 2005 this means:
  • 574 classes (of 27 children per class) that will not need teachers
  • 15,501 x $? new uniforms and school clothes won't be bought
  • 15,501 x $? casual clothes won't be needed
  • 62,000 pairs of shoes or sandals won't be needed (school shoes, sandals & 2 pair of sneakers)
  • 19,035,228 weetbix (396,567 x 750g packets) that won't be eaten (2 per child per day)
  • $620,000 worth of school stationery (@$40 per child) won't be bought
  • $1,000,000 - $1,550,000 in fees, schools will miss out on
  • 186,012 Happy Meals (1 per child per month) won't be sold
  • $1,000,000 + worth of toys won't be bought
That is some of the loss to New Zealand's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the children that weren't born in 1999 alone. Although economists may be able to construct models of how economies could grow amid a shrinking population, in the real world, it has never happened. A nation's GDP is literally the sum of its labour force times average output per worker.

Thus a decline in the number of workers implies a decline in an economy's growth potential. When the size of the work force falls, economic growth can occur only if productivity increases enough to compensate. And these increases would have to be substantial to offset the impact of aging.

An aging society
By the middle of the 21st century, one in four New Zealanders will be aged 65 or older, compared with one in eight at 2001. While some people may choose to continue working into old age it is just as likely that some people will choose to care for elderly relatives. The New Zealand government has been looking at ways to encourage people to remain economically active later in life.

There will be a greater reliance on mid- and late-career workers to meet skill demands. Although advances in medical science mean that people are healthier in later years than previous generations, a large proportion of New Zealanders lack qualifications, having acquired skills on the job. This potentially constrains the ability of older workers to adapt to changes in the labour market and technology. Thus, not all skills, and therefore the workers who possess them, will be sought after equally.

The ageing population also raises the concern that the growing number of retirees will increase the burden on the working population that supports them.

Australia is predicted to be facing severe labour shortages in many industries by as early as 2010. How that will impact on New Zealand is yet to be seen. One possibility is that more New Zealanders will be recruited to cross the Tasman. This would leave New Zealand industry in a precarious position.

Abortion and euthanasia
In the early days of abortion activism opponents were riduculed for suggesting that abortion was the thin end of the wedge, the slippery slope that would lead to euthanasia.

Many of the early abortion advocates were also involved with organisations promoting euthanasia. An argument used by euthanasia advocates is that if we may kill unborn babies, we may kill other human beings.

Being elderly and ill in Holland, where euthanasia is legal is a frightening experience, because the elderly know that they are officially "expendable." Such people are expendable because the primary motivation for Dutch health 'care' is cost containment rather than 'care.' They have been examined by 'healers' using a benefit-cost equation and they have been found wanting.

The same has been found in Oregon where many treatments are not covered by Medicaid, but euthanasia is.

Healthcare funding allocations, shortages of beds and nursing staff, as well as an increasing elderly population in the future, will undoubtedly influence policy makers and doctors to look at euthanasia as a means of cost containment.

Long-term political consequences
The 2004 American presidential election result left abortion advocates stunned. Despite having pulled out all stops in an effort to defeat President George W. Bush's re-election, he won convincingly.

According to an article in Newsday, James Pinkerton contended that "the left has birth-controlled, aborted and maybe also gay-libbed itself into a smaller role in American society."

Abortion has much to do with the fertility rates amongst liberals. It is estimated that of the 40 million or more abortions since legalisation, over 18 million would have been eligible to vote in the 2004 election, many of whom would have been influenced by their parents and voted for the Democratic candidate. This demographic shift is referred to in the US as "The Roe Effect."

James Taranto, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, wrote that: "Abortion is making America more conservative than it otherwise would be". First, "liberal and Democratic women are more likely to have abortions." Second, "children's political views tend to reflect those of their parents - not exactly, of course, and not in every case, but on average. Thus abortion depletes the next generation of liberals and eventually makes the population more conservative."

People with strong religious and moral views that oppose abortion are having more children than those who advocate abortion and have one, two or no children. As these children grow up they are likely to be influenced by their parents' views and also oppose abortion. As they reach maturity, they will gradually outnumber the liberals and will be likely to vote for politicians who respect traditional family values.

It is predicted by opponents to abortion, as well as demographers, that there will be a culture shift back toward limiting abortion. According to a Population Review Institute poll conducted in 2003, those opposed to abortion are outbreeding abortion advocates three to one. This was reflected in a 2003 Gallup Poll which showed that 72% of teenagers are of the opinion that abortion is morally wrong.

References:
  1. National Abortion Rights Action League. A Speaker's and Debater's Notebook, June 1978, pages 7 and 8
  2. Larry Lader. "The Abortion Revolution." The Humanist, May/June 1973, page 4
  3. Philip G. Ney, M.D., "Abortion and Child Abuse: Which is Cause, Which is Effect?" Paper presented at a conference entitled "Psychological Aspects of Abortion." 1978
  4. "The Abortion Experience in Private Practice", David H. Sherman, et al., in "Women and Loss: Psychobiological Perspectives", ed. William F. Finn, et al., The Foundation of Thanatology Series, Volume 3, New York: Praeger Publications (1985), pp. 98-107
  5. Effects of Fatherlessness (US Data) http://www.massey.ac.nz/~kbirks/gender/econ/nodad.htm