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By Bruce Walker, Church Militant, January 16, 2019

Decades of contraception and abortion leading to demographic winter

DETROIT ( – American birthrates have hit an all-time low. They’ve been steadily declining since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and according to a new study from the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation reached a tipping point when fertility levels fell below replacement rates in all but two states in 2017.

According to the study, 2,100 births per 1,000 women are necessary to replace the current U.S. population, currently estimated at 325 million. Total fertility rates (TFR) fell precipitously in 2017 to 1,765 births per 1,000 women during the course of their lifetime — 16 percent below the level necessary to replace population levels over time. Without specifically mentioning abortion and contraception, the study attributes the decline to “social and economic changes.”

“Fertility levels directly impact the size and composition of the U.S. population,” it states. “Family size is associated with female labor force participation and economic growth as well as other social and economic changes both at the national and state levels.”

Total fertility rates have decreased significantly over the past 60 years. According to a report by John Binder, “Between 1955 to 1960, the U.S. birth rate peaked with nearly 3.6 children being born per woman. Demographers predict, based on current trends, for the U.S. birth rate to remain below replacement level into the year 2100.”

Beyond specific Catholic doctrine against abortion and contraception, the decrease in total fertility rates as a result of both poses serious financial concerns from a strictly utilitarian point of view. According to a 2014 Christian Life Resources essay:

As a result of removing that staggering number of lives, the population — and tax base — are far smaller. If we assume a fairly steady rate of abortions since the last year of reporting (2008), then there have been almost 56M aborted babies in this country — nearly the population of California and Texas combined. Given an average federal tax revenue of approximately $8500/citizen, and assuming that those aborted between 1975 and 1990 (approx 23,782,000 lives, based on Guttmacher estimates) would now be productive taxpayers, the U.S. economy is losing roughly $202 billion per year in tax payments as of 2012.

The Guttmacher Institute referenced by CLR, which advocates for pro-abortion and contraception policies, also published the following statistics:

  • Nearly half (45%) of all pregnancies among U.S. women in 2011 were unintended, and about four in 10 of these were terminated by abortion.

  • Nineteen percent of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) in 2014 ended in abortion.

  • Approximately 926,200 abortions were performed in 2014, down 12 percent from 1.06 million in 2011. In 2014, some 1.5 percent of women aged 15–44 had an abortion. Just under half of these women (45%) reported having a previous abortion.

  • The abortion rate in 2014 was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down 14 percent from 16.9 per 1,000 in 2011. This is the lowest rate ever observed in the United States; in 1973, the year abortion became legal, the rate was 16.3.

  • At 2014 abortion rates, one in 20 women (5%) will have an abortion by age 20, about one in five (19%) by age 30 and about one in four (24%) by age 45.

CLR correspondent Mitch Behna notes other societal and economic hazards wrought by abortion and as well contraception:

It’s horrible enough that these innocent babies are murdered, but can you imagine how many more contributions those 50 million lives would have made? Perhaps one of those aborted could have found a way to cure AIDS, cancer, or asthma, just to name a few. Plus, with more people contributing to society through work, we would have a higher GDP, which would greatly help reduce the burden of our government spending, which spends about $4 billion daily. Much progress could be made to shore up the social security of the 10,000 individuals who retire every day.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Security Administration, Guttmacher Institute, and National Center for Health Statistics, if abortion had never been legalized in 1973, more than 17 million people would be employed, resulting in an additional $400 billion from those workers, with $11 billion contributed to Medicare and $47 million contributed to Social Security. Although it is important to also reduce government spending, these added incomes would nevertheless help the country.

Although the declining abortion rates are encouraging for pro-life advocates, the TFR statistics remain extremely troubling. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the country, TFR decreased exponentially because fewer children born since 1973 inherently reduces the number of child-bearing women in subsequent generations.

The decrease in total fertility rates poses serious financial concerns from a strictly utilitarian point of view.

The CDC study reports South Dakota and Utah were the only states with a TFR above the replacement level (2,227.5 and 2,120.5 births per 1,000 women respectively). The lowest TFR was the District of Columbia (1,421 births per 1,000 women).

Behna concludes:

It doesn’t take a world-renowned economist to figure out that when you’re decreasing the youth from abortion and with all the baby-boomers retiring, Social Security is going to eventually run out if we continue with abortions and the amount of spending by the federal government. Even though Social Security cannot last forever with the amount of federal spending today, not having abortion would help Social Security last longer, assuming that the amount of federal spending is the same.

The alarming decrease in fertility rates as a consequence of abortion and contraceptives was heralded as “an important but neglected social benefit” by such anti-Catholic researchers as Stephen Douglas Mumford as early as 1986. Mumford staunchly defended abortion and mass sterilization as legitimate forms of population control.