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Pro-life states increase fertility rates. The demographic situation after the repeal of Roe v. Wade

Published: 29.11.2023

Ordo Iuris

- A US research centre has published data showing that in the first six months of 2023, the number of births in some US states increased by an average of 2.3%.

- These are the states that restricted abortion after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

- These figures may be a good indication of how to mitigate the demographic crisis. However, they have been received coolly by left-wing circles in the US.

24 June 2022. The US Supreme Court has ruled to overturn the famous 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which held that every woman has the right to have an abortion (with the possibility of certain restrictions in the second and third trimesters under state law). The 1973 judgment held that a subjective right so construed derives from the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution and is therefore part of the right to privacy. In a 2022 ruling, however, the same Supreme Court, in a different panel, held that the 'right to abortion' in the States had no basis in either constitutional provisions or the nation's history and tradition, and therefore overturned the controversial 1973 ruling. Since then, almost half of the states (according to The New York Times website, "twenty-one states ban abortion or restrict the procedure at an earlier stage of pregnancy than the standard set in Roe vs. Wade") have already implemented various restrictions on the legal killing of unborn children in their territories, which has had the immediate effect of increasing fertility rates among American women. 

The researchers confirm: "in states with abortion bans, birth rates have increased".

It seems clear that with the introduction of a law that makes it more difficult to kill people, their numbers are likely to increase. This is also the conclusion reached by a group of researchers from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics in their paper 'The Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility', published in November 2023. As the authors of the study pointed out, it presents the first estimates of the impact of the ruling overturning the - as it turned out to be unfounded - 'right to abortion', established 50 years ago, on the fertility of American women. In their conclusions, the researchers stated: "our analysis shows that in the first six months of 2023, the number of births increased by an average of 2.3 per cent in states implementing a total ban on abortion compared to a control group of states where abortion rights were protected, representing approximately 32,000 additional births per year as a result of the abortion ban."

Although the outcome of these estimates could be encouraging and provide a starting point for action in other countries that could make a real contribution to tackling the demographic crisis affecting them, the media portray this fact in a rather negative light. For example, the CNN Health website, after initially presenting the positive effects observed in the USA of restricting access to abortion, immediately criticises them. "This is an attack on reproductive autonomy". - is reported, quoting a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This is followed by a fair amount of argument about women's interstate travel to access abortion, which has been restricted where they live. The narrative built around restrictions on access to abortion is once again limited to the perspective of women who do not want to have a child and completely ignores the realisation of everyone's fundamental right - the right to life.

Infant mortality as another pro-abortion argument

CNN's material also uses the already flagship argument of increased infant mortality as a consequence of the change in abortion laws. The problem is that the cited data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (i.e. the state with the highest increase in births as a result of restrictions on abortion) does not make it possible to determine the cause of this higher infant mortality. It cannot, of course, be ruled out that it is also due to the fact that children who, due to a diagnosed disease, were previously killed during their foetal life, now have a chance to be born, but die in infancy.

Assuming this thesis to be true, it should be recalled that the unborn child belongs equally to the human race as a newborn or an infant, and therefore the mortality of unborn children should also be taken into account on the same basis as infant mortality figures. For example, as pointed out by The Texas Tribune website, "between 2014 and 2021, approximately 50,000 to 55,000 female Texas residents had abortions each year". Given that some of them may have had multiple pregnancies, it is reasonable to assume that the number of children killed by this procedure was even higher. Their deaths, however, are not included in the statistics on infant mortality, which advocates of increasing the legal possibility of abortion use instrumentally to convince the public that a conceived child is not a human being - as opposed to an infant. Similar procedures are also used in other countries, including Poland, as the Ordo Iuris Institute recently wrote about in the material 'The mystery of the increase in infant mortality solved. What the Central Statistical Office data do not tell about the CT judgment on the eugenic premise'. Furthermore, it should be noted that the thesis emphasised in the media about the increase in infant mortality is certainly not the only reason for this state of affairs. Unfortunately, the others, which do not fit the pro-abortion narrative, are not taken into account.

Newspeak - an effective tool against the truth

The creation of untruthful consequences of restricting the possibility of performing abortions is also consistently built up at the level of language. In the debate on the grounds for permissibility of abortion, one rarely hears about a child or an unborn human being, although from a biological, and therefore scientific, point of view one cannot deny the fact that such a being in the prenatal period of development possesses a human genome and is therefore certainly a human being. Based on Polish legislation, it is also fully legitimate to use the term 'child', since, according to Article 2(1) of the Act on the Ombudsman for Children, 'a child is every human being from conception to adulthood'.

Meanwhile, in the media, it is not uncommon to see terms that dehumanise a human being before birth - as one might guess - in order to hide the truth that abortion in its essence is not simply a procedure provided to a woman, but an action whose sole purpose is to deprive another human being of life. As an example, one can use the words of the aforementioned Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researcher quoted by CNN Health: 'I think of those women who have had to carry these pregnancies and give birth to them, knowing that they are likely to die soon after birth and the trauma that comes with it'. The truth, however, is that it is not the pregnancy as such that is carried and delivered, but the child, who in turn is killed at the fetal, pre-infant stage of development as a result of the abortion. In both situations, therefore, there is the death of the child, which is not mentioned by the "alarmist" publicists.  

In conclusion, it should be noted that the positive effect of a change in abortion law in the USA, noted even by commentators with clearly pro-abortion views, could in the long term contribute to easing the demographic crisis. After all, even a relatively small but constant percentage of additional births can have a huge effect in subsequent generations thanks to the phenomenon of compound interest.

It should also be mentioned that in 2021, the Polish Economic Observer service, citing the U.S. Census Bureau, reported the then lowest population growth in the United States since 1900. Increased infant mortality is, of course, a very worrying phenomenon and one that requires, first of all, the reliable identification of its causes and then the implementation of appropriate measures to reverse the trend. It seems, however, that awareness of this state of affairs, both in Poland and overseas, currently only serves pro-abortion propaganda.      

Katarzyna Gęsiak - Director of the Centre for Medical Law and Bioethics

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