The election of Mike Harris’ Conservative party in Ontario has serious implications for both family life and the defence of the unborn children. Harris’ platform calls for a fundamental shift of wealth and power in the province. A keystone of his campaign was a promise to cut provincial income taxes by 30 percent, a promise which will put thousands of extra dollars into the pockets of Ontario’s most prosperous citizens. At the same time he has promised to slash welfare payments, and other government services – a policy which will remove benefits from the hands of Ontario’s poorest citizens.
There is compelling evidence that such policies will in fact increase the number of unborn children who die in Ontario by abortion. Unfortunately there is no clear study of the relation between income levels and abortion rates – we don’t have scientific proof that the financially deprived are more inclined to obtain abortions, but there is reason to believe that such is the case.
One of the fascinating differences between the U.S. and Canada has been that country’s consistently higher abortion rate. Since the striking down of our abortion law, Canada has consistently recorded just under 100,000 abortions per year. The United States with a population ten times that of ours, at the same time reports more than 1,500,000 abortions per year. The U.S. rate is therefore more than 50 percent higher than Canada’s.
What accounts for this difference? That is a vital question for every pro-life person both in Canada and in the U.S. Our cultures are virtually identical. Neither their love of guns nor our abundance of snow can be reasonably seen as the source of the difference.
What is markedly different are our social conditions. We have a more egalitarian society in which extensive social programs ensure that the disadvantaged do not slip into utter desperation. America on the other hand is renowned for its lack of government services. It is the only industrialized Western country without universal Medicare; the country with the most unequal distribution of wealth between the rich and poor in any industrialized county; a country wealthier than Canada but with a lower minimum wage.
In the United States, a large underclass has emerged. That underclass is to a great extent racially identifiable. Statistically, in the U.S. to be black is to be poor. The abortion statistics for this underclass are most startling. Abortion rates for blacks in the U.S. are twice that of whites. This is particularly extraordinary when one considers that all opinion polls show that about twice as many blacks as whites are morally opposed to abortion. Clearly, desperate economic situations lead to desperate solutions such as abortion.
U.S. News and World Report is a mass circulation, conservative news magazine. It recently had a report on the growing white upperclass in America. It found that an increasing number of white communities are finding themselves subject to the kind of grinding poverty considered to be characteristic of black ghettoes.
One of the developments in these depressed white communities which the article noted was a sky-rocketing out-of-wedlock birth rate. Incidentally, that ends any racist suggestion that the high out-of-wedlock rate among blacks is somehow caused by race. Grinding poverty destroys family life and human dignity such that both abortion rates and out-of-wedlock births can be expected to increase dramatically.
None of this constitutes proof that draconian anti-poor government policies increase abortion and destroy family life and human dignity such that both abortion rates and out-of-wedlock births can be expected to increase dramatically.
None of this constitutes proof that draconian anti-poor government policies increase abortion and destroy family life. But the evidence is compelling and surprisingly consistent. Furthermore, it accords with our understanding of how people act.
Abortion is a desperate act most often chosen by desperate people. Government policies which create situations in which wages are low and government benefits meager mean that for a large number of people another child represents severe financial hardship. It is hardly surprising that a substantial number of women, when put in such a situation, choose to have an abortion.
The governments which help create such conditions must share responsibility for the inevitable results.