What Do 40 Million Lost Lives Mean?
By Laura Antkowiak, NRL Research Assistant
In its controversial 1998 feature on the cost of a child, U.S. News & World Report declared unequivocally: "A child, financially speaking, looks more like a high-priced consumer item with no warranty. It's the decision to remain childless that offers the real investment opportunity."
This short-sighted commentary is symbolic of and relies on a particularly pernicious myth: that children are essentially unproductive cost centers, which implies that abortion economically "benefits" society because by choosing abortion parents have decided on a better "investment opportunity."
Even if pro-abortionists today do not put the argument quite so harshly as they did back in the 1970s, they still count on people tacitly accepting the assumption that children are an economic drain. Rarely do we hear that abortion has a cost to America beyond the "procedure's" price tag, or that a child may actually produce social and economic benefits.
In fact, as this article will show, the ethical argument (that all human beings are created equal) and the economic impact (harshly negative) speak with one voice. Abortion is bad both morally and economically.
This article does not intend to forward an argument against abortion that relies solely on economics. Such an argument would miss the true message of the pro-life movement, that abortion is wrong no matter what the economic consequences are. Certainly we would never place a monetary value on an individual human life.
But the hope is that this discussion will help pro-life advocates rebut popular economic arguments for abortion that do have a surface appeal for people who are not necessarily pro- or anti-life.
The pro-abortion economic argument tells us that children are expensive enough to justify abortion. Pro-abortionists claim that the cost of raising children burdens their parents, and it also burdens the public with additional welfare spending when poor mothers bear children. Further, they say abortion is necessary to check population growth and costs associated with this growth.
The simple response to the abortion advocates' case is that most children inevitably grow into adults. They work and pay taxes, or otherwise spend, save, invest, and innovate. Economists attest that even before these children reach adulthood, their very be-longing to a large and growing population spurs economic growth. The following four points give an overview of why abortion does not help, and in fact may be hurting, the U.S. economy.
Fewer babies mean fewer consumers, less demand for goods and services, and fewer jobs. In the eighth edition of his famous introductory economics book, Paul Samuelson notes that a growing population leads to higher levels of spending and may therefore lower unemployment.
Author Lawrence F. Roberge points out that having fewer children means having fewer consumers of child-specific items, from diapers to toys to school books. Fewer children create fewer job openings for teachers, doctors, manufacturers, retailers, and others from whom greater productivity is needed to support more children. Entire industries are geared toward children and families, so one can only begin to imagine the goods and the employees that would be affected by a lower number of births. Notice the recent concern about a holiday retail season that did not live up to expectations: two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States is consumer spending.
Abortion slows labor force growth. In its long-term forecast, the Social Security Administration (SSA) predicts that the growth rate of the U.S. economy, as measured by the total of goods and services produced in the United States, will slow.
States the SSA, "This . . . slowdown is mostly due to slower projected growth in labor force and employment." Abortion's impact on the labor force is already discernible (see