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Killing The Economy: Dennis Howard’s “Elephant In The Living Room”


28 October 2008     Vol. 10 / No. 45

Although it would be simplistic to blame the current financial crisis on America’s propensity for killing the unborn, it is equally simplistic to pretend, as many do, that the two have absolutely no correlation.

Demographic researcher Dennis Howard predicted the long-term economic consequences of abortion in his 1997 book, The Abortion Bomb: America’s Demographic Disaster. He wrote, “I see little hope that we can avoid an eventual crash on Wall Street that will make the 1930’s look like cashing in your cards after a bad game of Monopoly.”

Well, the S&P 500 has not quite reached the levels characteristic of the Great Depression, but the most recent charts are beginning to bear more than a passing resemblance to those of that era.

Howard, whose background is in market research and investigative reporting, has been tracking the effects of institutionalized abortion on the American economy since 1995, and predicted the downturn that we now find ourselves in. “No matter how you slice it,” writes Howard in a 2008 piece entitled The $35 Trillion Elephant in the Living Room, “aggressive ‘population control’ exacts a huge price in future economic growth that can never be recovered. Indeed, it is a loss that reverberates through all future generations. Without an enormous new Baby Boom lasting another 40 or 50 years, that growth is lost forever.”

“We don’t have a debt crisis,” he continued, “we have a death crisis.”

According to Howard, a conservative estimate of the GDP lost through abortion adds up to an incredible $35 trillion. If you further take into account the number of babies lost to abortifacient contraception like the pill, IUDs, and RU-486, that number doubles. “You can estimate the population shortfall based on earlier birth trends,” said Howard in an interview with PRI, “and a normalization of that over a period of time.” Howard bases his numbers on the direct economic contribution of individuals to the economy.

In so doing, he turns the overpopulation zeitgeist on its head. Instead of a “population bomb,” he writes that we are facing an “abortion bomb.” Unlike Ehrlich’s bogus predictions, Howard’s warnings have actually been coming true.

We are not speaking here of Howard’s timelines. For instance, he projected a 50% chance of a dramatic economic downturn by 2000, an 80% chance by the year 2010, and a 100% chance by 2020. By this time, he insisted, the crash would be an economic certainty.

While such a timeline is a little too loose to be considered a prediction, it is true that the birth dearth is making our current economic doldrums worse. To the various factors that have pushed us into the current economic crisis, from unscrupulous lending practices to homebuyers, to the lack of regulatory oversight of Wall Street, we must add abortion.

Another interesting insight from Howard has to do with America’s regional economies. During the economic downturn of 1989-1994, he found that the economy recovered the fastest in those states with low abortion rates. In fact, he asserts that “the low [abortion] rate states suffered virtually no recession at all, while those with the highest rates – mainly Democratic ‘blue states’ – were still in recession five years later.”

How does Howard suggest reviving the economy at present? Educate people on the importance of babies—especially pro-lifers. Howard said to PRI that too often, pro-lifers fail to recognize “the complexity of this issue, and how serious and fundamental it is to our whole society.” While he emphasizes the power of pro-life laws and regulations (mentioning the Hyde amendment specifically), far more important to him is the issue of education. “We have to educate the public,” he says. “The problem is, most people are totally uneducated about what this is costing them, and costing the country.”

This point is underscored in his article. “We need to restore real power to the people by making government more responsive to the needs of workers and families,” he says. “We need to recognize that families are the fundamental social and economic unit of society for the simple, but profound, reason that they are the source of all supply and demand.”

It takes considerable courage to make such arguments, as we at PRI well know. The ethic of abortion-on-demand continues to trump all efforts to engage in reasoned debate. Howard complains of a pervasive hostility presented by the demographic intelligentsia, culminating in a situation where “any pro-lifer who saw the connection between abortion and the world’s economic woes “was made to feel like a skunk at a garden party.” We at PRI have noted this phenomenon, as well, in our own work. No matter how many facts, statistics and figures we can marshal to our cause, our arguments will always by dismissed out of hand by the pro-choice extremists.

The connection between robust birth rates and economic growth has long been ignored. Perhaps now, with the economy collapsing around us, these arguments can receive the hearing that they deserve.

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute, and the author of Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits.(Transaction, 2008)

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