The driving force for abortion, globally, is population control. That’s not what’s on the minds of women and couples who show up at abortion clinics, but it is a huge part of the motivation form the people who build the clinics and run the industry.
The eugenics movement in the 20th and 21st centuries, aiming to construct a new and improved human race, has four parts. There’s “more from the fit,” via genetic engineering supported by the new and growing discipline called “bioethics.” And there’s “less from the fit,” via population control supported by immigration restrictions.
From a eugenic and white supremacist perspective, population control isn’t all that important in America. Most Americans are white, so from a eugenics perspective it’s okay if they have lots of kids, unless they’re “feeble-minded.”
Population control is far more visible in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There’s lots of white money from American and Europe available for programs designed to reduce population there.
The nitty-gritty of population control includes contraception, sterilization, and abortion. Some programs are based on the users’ choice; some are based on coercion. But most are based on a hybrid – not openly and physically coercive, but not honest choice either. The eugenicists in the 1950s called it “unconscious voluntary selection.” It’s propaganda, or manipulation.
(For more, see The Roots of Racism and Abortion.)
Chapter 5: Population Control
four brief insights
The Giant Accountant (#37) 93
A coopted movement (#38) 95
Refugees and abortion (#39) 97
MAGA versus Pelosi (#40) 99
In 1986, Bill O’Reilly – an accountant, not the TV celebrity – was invited to Bangladesh to audit the Bank of Bangladesh. He worked alone, in a small office in Bethesda; but he had credentials. During the Kennedy administration, he had run the accounting department for the US Post Office. But more importantly for Bangladesh, Bill’s career included an investigation of the finances of New York City, which concluded with a controversial declaration that the city was bankrupt. He was very modest, but he was a serious guy.
When he accepted the Bangladesh job, Bill planned a six-week trip to Bangladesh; but he actually finished his work almost right away. When he got there, it only took a day or two to figure out his job. The Bank was not independent; it was government-controlled. And it was bankrupt. Everyone knew it, but nobody could say it. They hired him, an outside expert, to say it. So he said it. Then he had almost the whole six weeks left to explore a wonderful although poverty-stricken country.
Pro-lifers can make odd tourists. Bill poked around here and there, and discovered that the World Bank was preparing a development loan for the country, with a long list of much-needed projects for a variety of social services, including 400 maternal and child health clinics. But the clinics all included a “menstrual regulation” component.
Bangladesh was a Muslim nation, and abortion was illegal. But the plan was to offer help for women whose menstrual cycle became irregular. The plan was, if a woman realized that she hadn’t menstruated for six weeks or longer, and that there might be some complication, she could visit a clinic for a simple procedure that would restore a regular flow. In plainer terms, skipping the euphemisms and the disguise, the World Bank was about to build 400 abortion clinics, despite the law.
Bill returned to the United States and wrote it up. He pulled me into his project, and I helped write his pamphlet, “Deadly Neo-Colonialism.” Fr. Paul Marx at Human Life International funded publication. Armed with a clear and concise explanation of the violent fraud, O’Reilly lobbied the World Bank to cancel the project. It was too late to alter the project; the loan was facing an up-or-down vote. The Bank is supposed to be lobby-proof, but Bill didn’t know that, so he did it – and succeeded. The Bank didn’t cancel the project, but rather added a side agreement, that none of the funds in the loan would be used for abortion, under any name.
Bill (with a little help) closed 400 abortion clinics. It is plausible that approximately 15% of the people alive in Bangladesh today owe their lives to this gentle giant, this obscure accountant.
Not long after this, a great feminist opponent of coercive population control, Betsy Hartmann, wrote a masterful dissection of Western interference (Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control), citing her experience in Bangladesh, and denouncing the sterilization campaign there. She made reference to the odd support she got from a couple of “rightwingers,” meaning Bill and me. We wrote to explain that we were pro-life Democrats, and we joked that we would sue her if she impugned our reputations in this way again. I don’t know whether she laughed, but she fixed the error.
In 2000, I attended a meeting of the International Association of Bioethics, in London. Daniel Wikler, a former president of the IAB, was just releasing his new book about the difference between old destructive eugenics and new hopeful eugenics. He had announced his plan for the book at a meeting in 1996, and I had argued with him about it, but he ignored my criticisms. The book argues that the old eugenics was bloody: think Hitler. But, he argues, the new eugenics can be helpful: think babies with improved genes. The problem is, the new eugenics includes coercive abortion in national population control programs – anti-life, anti-choice, anti-child, anti-woman, government-run. Wikler’s book was applauded by the Chinese family planners. Eugenics is still a massively bloody utopian nightmare.
The thing that matters here is that a murderous eugenics campaign can include opposition to abortion, can include a sustained push to protect babies and births and marriages and fatherhood and motherhood and family life – in wellborn wealthy educated white communities. A serious and organized eugenic push can use a pro-life movement – in white nations. The flip side of “less from the unfit” is “more from the fit” – two sides of as single coin. Hitler was for abortion for Jews and against abortion for Aryans. In some settings, he was “pro-life” (if you accept that word as a synonym for opposing abortion).
Can that happen again? Of course! Look at Hungary, poor bloodied Hungary! And look at the enthusiasm among American pro-lifers about Hungary’s brave new efforts!
God have mercy on Hungary, a proud but haunted nation. It was smashed up the Nazis, recovered briefly and then was smashed up by the Soviets, recovered briefly and then was smashed up again by a rightwing dictatorship.
My best friend in grade school was Hungarian. His father, Aladar Szegedy-Maszak, was Hungarian ambassador to the United States after World War II. He was in a Nazi concentration camp, and then was exiled by the Communists. I remember him as a man of immense dignity, visibly tortured by memories.
Hungary today is working hard to raise its birthrate, and also to keep out non-whites. It has a happy encouraging pro-birth national policy, and a savagely inhospitable anti-Muslim border policy.
In the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, much of Europe has been hospitable – including Sweden, Germany, France, and the UK. But some nations have refused to help refugees – including Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. In 2018, Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz, tightened its grip on the nation’s parliament by running a single-issue campaign: anti-immigrant.
The last national census in Hungary (in 2011) found 5,579 Muslims, less than a tenth of a percent of the nation.
Faced with a steep population decline, the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, supports incentives for marriage and births, including tax breaks, mortgage repayments, car purchase subsidies, payments to care for grandparents, and grants to pro-life organizations. The 2012 Hungarian constitution states that life will be protected from conception; that has not ended access to abortion – yet.
Orban is determined to avoid “an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others.” “Others”: that means non-white.
The Trump administration applauds Hungary’s explicit immigration-abortion link, Orban’s slogan: “Pro-creation, not immigration.”
It makes me sick to admit it, but the pro-life movement is full of people who applaud Orban’s murderous eugenics program.
Understanding the bloody impact of America’s immigration restrictions requires a little history. Let me race through a century in five paragraphs to make a point.
First, when eugenicists gained power in America in the 1920s, they launched three legislative initiatives. They banned miscegenation (“inter-racial” marriage), the began compulsory sterilization of the “feeble-minded,” and they restricted immigration. Our immigration laws today are reforms of eugenic and racist laws. Restricting immigration protects the racial purity of a nation. The intent was clear.
Second, the anti-immigration laws here supported Hitler’s work in Europe. In 1937, a passenger ship, the St Louis. sailed out of Hamburg, carrying hundreds of Jewish refugees to America. But when the ship arrived here, we refused to permit passengers to disembark. The ship returned to Germany, and most of those people whom we turned away, who had seen the lights of Miami, were killed in death camps. At the Holocaust Museum in Washington, there’s a list of the names of passengers who sailed back to Europe to die – killed by our laws which supported Hitler’s aims. Restricting immigration here strengthened murderous depopulation measures there.
Third, the Golden Venture incident shows that restricting immigration here can strengthen forced abortion elsewhere. In 1993, a cargo ship, the Golden Venture, ran aground on Long Island. There were 286 Chinese men and women on board; the vessel belonged to “snakeheads,” Chinese gangsters who smuggled “illegal aliens.” The fugitives were rounded up for deportation. But some of them were pregnant women fleeing from forced abortion, a brutal aspect of China’s one-child-only policy. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and other pro-lifers fought to protect fleeing women and their unborn children. Smith, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, pushed though legislation to grant asylum to a limited number of refugees from forced abortion or sterilization. The incident forced pro-lifers to consider the links between our border policies and brutality elsewhere; at that time, pro-lifers chose to protect life.
In 1995, a French novel that promoted white supremacy, Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints, was re-published with a cover that appears to be taken from the Golden Venture incident – a rusty ship in the background and poorly dressed non-white people pouring ashore. Today, immigration policy in the Trump administration is often devised and promoted by Stephen Miller, who has been urging people to read this book for years.
In the 1970s, pro-lifers understood population control and resisted it. The change was slow, but broad and deep. Pro-life leaders are now generally supportive of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, due in some part to the successful propaganda from NumbersUSA. This is one of the organization’s founded by John Tanton, a proponent of global population control. Tanton worked with Planned Parenthood for years, but considered them too slow and inefficient. He went off to build his own groups. NumbersUSA is a propaganda powerhouse that has successfully recruited huge numbers of pro-lifers to support population control. For years, their cute little video about gumballs has been circulating among pro-lifers. Margaret Sanger recruited feminists into the eugenics movement; Tanton recruits pro-lifers.
Pro-life leaders hate to admit it, but they are not making plans to end abortion. It’s their desire, but not their plan. In the foreseeable future, they plan to trim. A realistic strategy to end abortion begins with a campaign of nonviolence, but at this time most pro-life leaders are committed to polarization, demonizing their opponents; this is not nonviolence. If the plan is to trim, not end, let’s talk about how to trim the most.
Most pro-life leaders talk as if they are about to reverse Roe v. Wade. I think that’s crazy, but to make my point, let’s assume it happens. Most pro-lifers assume quietly, without much discussion, that reversing Roe will end abortion. I think that’s total nonsense, but to make my point, let’s assume it happens. Most pro-lifers don’t get around to discussing what happens when you try to enforce a law like the one they propose, but to make my point, let’s assume the law is enforced successfully. If we give pro-life leaders everything they want – they get a reversal, and new protective laws, and they even get a third miracle, effective enforcement – how much do we get?
2%. Maybe 3%. America has about 5% of the world’s population, and 2-3% of the world’s surgical abortions.
2-3%. That’s it, that’s all. This is about MAGA, Trump’s Make America Great Again. America helped to start and grow abortion all over the world, but pro-life leaders are aiming – in their wildest dreams – to end abortion in America only, which means that they want to protect 2% of the babies in danger in the world. Their wildest dream, unprecedented in the history of the world, succeeding with a list of miracles, is a trim: 2-3%.
By contrast, suppose we work with Nancy Pelosi, and get everything she wants but nothing more.
She opposes forced abortion. The statistics on that are really messy! How do you define “force”? But a reasonable ballpark estimate is that 30% of abortion globally is coerced.
(My friend John Ryan, a true pro-life hero, insists that we keep in mind that all abortion is coercive from the perspective of the unborn child. Noted.)
But about 30% of abortions include some form of coercion applied to the mother. The worst campaign of forced abortion in the world – indeed the bloodiest chapter in all of human history, in my view as a pro-lifer) – is the one-child-only depopulation policy in China. It’s been eased a bit, but not erased; it’s a two-child-only policy now. It’s anti-life, anti-choice, anti-child, anti-woman. And Pelosi has opposed it for decades.
Pro-lifer leaders are working to trim abortion, not end it. And if you let them trim all they want (all they are currently talking about in their wildest dreams), they will trim 2-3%.
If Pelosi got everything she wanted in her wildest dreams, she would trim abortion 30%.
MAGA pro-lifers, given everything they want, would divide America bitterly and save a million babies’ lives each year.
Pelosi, given everything she wants, would unite America and save 15 million babies’ lives each year.
I admit that Pelosi, although she is remarkable, probably can’t get global cooperation and stop coercive abortion. But that’s where her ideas aim: 30%.
I wish pro-lifers would admit that they won’t reverse Roe (miracle #1) and get protective laws in 50 states (15 more miracles) and enforce them successfully (50 more miracles). But their ideas, their most ambitious ideas – MAGA to the max, with 66 miracles – would trim 2%, maybe 3%.
So I’m a pro-life Democrat, with a global view.