Every human life has value.

The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan V. Last takes a look at declining fertility rates world-wide. It’s a very long article, but it’s interesting to see how many countries seem to have voluntarily adopted China’s forced “one child” policy over the years. His main focus is America (which has a fertility rate of about 2.06, so pretty darn close!), who he says owes it’s decline in birth rates to a variety of cultural and economic factors: the American drive for education, the broadening of women’s career paths and delayed family formation, a higher cost of living over the years and the rise in government programs (social security, medicare, etc…) that have reduced the pressing “need” for one to have children who will help take care them in old age (nevermind the fact that these programs, to be effective in the long run, require a steady supply of new workers to replace the ones who retire and want to reap their benefits).

And then, of course, there’s this:

If the G.I. Bill could wreak so much havoc on fertility rates, imagine the effects of the last century’s two great changes in sexual life: the contraceptive pill and the legalization of on-demand abortion. Calculating the number of babies not born because of the birth control pill is impossible. But without confusing correlation and causation, it is worth noting that the pill became available in America and much of the West in 1960, the precise moment when fertility rates began heading into deep decline.

On the other hand, it is quite easy to make an accounting of abortion’s effects. Before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the tide of public opinion in America was against abortion. Accordingly, there were relatively few abortions, even though most states allowed for early-term abortions. In 1970, for example, there were 193,491 reported legal abortions. Certainly, this number undercounts the real total because it does not include illegal abortions. But let’s take 200,000 as a baseline. In 1973, as Roe created a universal abortion right, the number of reported abortions rose to 744,600. The next year, that number rose by 20 percent, to 898,600 abortions. By this time all abortions were legal, and so we can be confident that this number is fairly accurate. Over the course of the next 15 years the number of abortions rose by almost 100 percent.

In 1973—the year of the Roe decision—there were 3.1 million babies born. Over the next 10 years that number rose only slightly, despite the fact that America’s total population was increasing quickly. Why weren’t there more babies born in the decade following Roe? Because during that time, 13.6 million were aborted—meaning that 28.5 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion. Since Roe more than 49.5 million babies have been aborted in the United States, and the fertility rate has varied inversely to the abortion rate, generally declining when abortion is on the rise and rising when abortion is on the decline.

Last goes on in his article to spell out what he thinks the government could do to try to promote procreation (reducing taxes for every child born per family, reformatting the college system, etc…), but is that really enough to reverse this trend?

It seems to me the problem is a lot deeper than potential parents needing a little extra money in their pockets and a quicker education. Just look at what passes for “entertainment” and largely influences our society these days. It is obvious that one of the main reasons Americans are having less children is because, for the most part, they simply do not value large or even medium-large families, period (just ask any couple expecting their 4th or 5th – sometimes even just their 3rd – child what kind of comments they get from people), nor do they necessarily hold the traditional family model or its values in very high esteem, either. Our morals have drastically changed over the past few decades and there’s little the government can do to really change that. Not that they shouldn’t try to make America more “family friendly”. One of the best ways they could do that (which Last doesn’t mention): get rid of abortion on demand. Would this end abortion altogether? No. But, as you can clearly see by the numbers above, at least less children are killed when abortion is illegal.

What we really need in this country is to get our priorities straight. To put God’s will above our own selfish desires and to rediscover the value of marriage and family and the truth and meaning of human sexuality.

Previous posts:
How Can There Be Too Many Children?
Society’s View of Large Families
Society’s View of Large Families, the Musical
Becoming Better People, One Child at a Time

September 29th, 2010 at 10:40 pm
4 Responses to “America’s Voluntary “One-Child Policy””
  1. 1

    [...] September 30, 2010 Posted by tantamergo in Basics, General Catholic, Society, sickness. trackback Reflections of a Paralytic has some [...]

  2. 2
    Bob Says:

    So, Americans are voluntarily following roughly the same population policies that are brutally imposed by the Chinese government. Unreal.

  3. 3

    We had 5 and then we lost the youngest, Tony, when I didn’t see him and backed over him at the age of 3. We wanted more but his death so rattled us that we just couldn’t get it done ,now 7 years later it is too late, the years caught up to my wife, God do I miss him, when I hear people make comments about family size it is all I can do to not punch them in the face. Thank heavens here in rural western Ohio 4 and five are not that uncommon but the “intelligent ones” do look down at you. The hardest part was telling his 5 year old brother that his best friend was gone, he was standing in front of the window waving goodbye as the care flight took off, got to go now and have a good cry, thanks

  4. 4
    Subvet Says:

    As long as sexual intercourse is viewed as a recreational activity instead of the holiest expression of marriage vows, this will continue. The mindset we currently have didn’t spring fully grown onto the cultural scene in the 60′s, it’s genesis can be traced some decades back to at least the “Roaring 20′s” and perhaps beyond that.

    So in order to reverse course on this will take at least an equally long time. Anyone hoping for quick fixes will be severely disappointed.

    I just left another site where the blogger had posted a video dealing with alleged Marian apparitions in Malta. The messages received there emphasize prayer, fasting and penance for the sake of this sinful world, especially Iran, Russian, China, USA and Australia.

    Reading your post and the conclusions you sum up at the end lends credibility to that need for repentance.

    May God have mercy on us all, we’re in line for a divine buttwhipping on the order of Sodom & Gomorrah.