Abortion numbers are staggering. As of today, 28 May 2015, the US Abortion Clock, reports exactly 57,938,608 abortions since it was legalized in 1973 (stat recorded at 10:13pm EST on 28 May 2015). Worldwide that number grows to 1,336,390,870 since 1980. That’s over 1.3 billion abortions in 35 1/2 years, or 37.6 million abortions yearly.
But there are all sorts of other horrible atrocities splattered across human history. There are wars, genocides, plagues, and natural disasters. Surely abortion isn’t the worst, right?
Unfortunately, the most deadly events in human history look to be human caused, and abortion seems to be the deadliest among them. How can this be?
Abortion vs. War and Genocide
Dr. Clay Jones of BIOLA university gives a stellar talk about the nature of evil and why God allows it. Part of his case includes a gut wrenching survey of genocides. He gives brutal stats on the 3rd Reich, the Kmer Rouge, Rwandan genocide, Armenian Genocide, and the Bolshevik revolution. But bigger than all of these is abortion. Dr. Jones mentioned how over 55million abortions have been performed in the US just since 1973. The number has crawled up to almost 58 million, just in America and just since 1973. According to the U.S. Abortion Clock, that number balloons into 1.3 billion worldwide since 1980. Jones cites this unparalleled death-toll as more evidence that mankind is seriously evil needing a savior.
This move might seem errant and distracting. A lot of Americans, perhaps the majority, think abortion is excusable in many cases. Allegedly, abortion is justified as a women’s rights issue, a right of privacy, a corrective against age old sexism. But underneath this veneer of justified injustice is the reality that abortion choice advocates think it’s okay to kill very small early development human beings if they aren’t wanted by their mothers.
All of the genocides above were done in the name of corrective justice, compassion for the oppressed, and perceived entitlements by the people in power. Civilized America has no clearer example of it’s own lurking barbarism than the fact that at least half of us think it’s okay to kill innocent defenseless children-in-utero.
Horrible evils can and should terrify us. But their ferocity is only one facet of horror. Perhaps the most terrifying element in large scale evils like war and genocide is their banality. Everyday people abide vicious cruelty with indifference.
Genocidal rampages are impossible without the cooperation and complicit participation of normal sane people. We people are prone to in-group/out-group behavior (aka, xenophobia). We are prone to thinking higher of ourselves than we do of the “unwashed masses.” We find media outlets for our violent appetites. Atheists and theists alike have been known to “fly off the handle.” We tend towards complacent indifference in the face of kidnapping, abuse, rape and homicides, so long as they are committed miles away. We may assume that only sociopaths and “unhinged” people would do such evil. But we deceive ourselves if we think that we are so “evolved” that we ourselves, en masse or alone, would never commit such evils. Hindsight lets us see clearly what horrors have happened in our past.
800,000 killed in the Rwandan Genocide.
But Americans intentionally abort more human beings than that yearly.
1.7 million killed by the Kmer Rouge between 1975-79.
But America killed 2,907,270 children-in-utero in that same period.
3-9 million killed in the Crusades
But since the Crusades lasted almost 200 years, U.S. abortion numbers easily surpass this total in yearly averages.
About 11 million killed by Nazis in the third Reich, between 1933-1945
But in the same amount of time, 12 years, America has averaged almost 16.8 million abortions ( 1.398 million yearly average since 1973; stats derived from US Abortion Clock).
As many as 258,327,000 in all the wars in the 20th century.
But abortions worldwide still surpass that number 5x’s over.
About 1.5 Billion killed in all the communist revolutions in the 20th century
Surely this surpasses the death toll for abortion, right? Well, there have been about 1.3 billion abortions worldwide since 1980 and if we included the rest of the 20th century, that number would almost certainly surpass the communist death toll in that same period. The U.S. alone reports 9.4 million abortions (9,384,723) between 1960-1979–not counted in that 1.3 billion. “The Pill” (oral contraceptives) was introduced around 1960, and liberal abortion practices typically follow soon after in places like Western Europe and Australian. Russia legalized abortion in 1920, and has consistently “boasted” the highest abortion rate in the world. Not to mention, sex selective abortion has long been fashionable in China, India, and other Asian countries.
In terms of willful killing, abortion is more deadly than every known genocide or democide on record.
Abortion vs. Disease
But what about diseases and epidemics? Aren’t these killing more than abortion is?
Still no. The two leading killers, among diseases, are heart disease and cancer. Combined these total about 1.2 million (611,105-heart disease; 584,881-cancer). But Abortion has been killing 1.4 million annually (on average). That makes abortion more than 2x’s more deadly than the deadliest disease in America.
According to one healthcare site the three deadliest epidemics were:
3. The Black Death (about 50 million deaths)
2. The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 (50-100 million deaths)
1. Tuberculosis (2 million deaths yearly)
Abortion has easily surpassed the Black Death and Tubercolosis in yearly averages. And the Influenza Epidemic is still dwarfed by the 1.3 billion abortions since 1980. The last 35 years of abortion have surpassed the most deadly one year epidemic in human history by 1300%.
Abortion is deadlier, by far, than the deadliest diseases.
Abortion vs. Natural Disasters
Perhaps we are still thinking too small. Surely abortion isn’t worse than natural disasters. Right?
Think again. The deadliest natural disaster on record (not counting the Great Flood which is widely denied) is the Central China floods (1931), where the Zangtze river overflowed and killed 3.7 million in drowning, starvation, and associated diseases. Compared to abortion, the death toll from abortion is worse by 3 orders of magnitude (361 time larger or 3,610%). The next largest natural disaster was the Yellow River Flood (1887), which killed as many 2 million–a much lower number.
To put these numbers in perspective. Hurricane Katrina, considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, killed 1,833 people. The highest death toll from any natural disaster on U.S. soil is the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 which killed as many as 12,000 people. The U.S. surpasses that number in abortions every 4 days. The world surpasses that number, in abortions, every 3 hours.
Abortion easily dwarfs the worst natural disasters.
At this point you may be wondering, “What’s your point?” You may bielive that abortion is bad but justified to prevent worse evils like injustice against women, broken homes, oppression, crime, and so on.
I’m not arguing that point here. My aim is simply to put the epidemic scope of abortion in perspective. If we are willing to justify abortion as the means to, otherwise, good ends–then we are conceding to the same kind of utilitarian calculus that fed voracious genocidal appetites mentioned earlier. The Third Reich in Nazi Germany, the Hutus in Rwanda, the North Veitnamese, the Kmer Rouge, the rampaging Crusaders–they all thought they were achieving a “greater good.” It might even be true that some wars are unavoidable (Just war theory), or self-defense is defensible. But abortion is none of those. It is not an act of war. It is not a natural disaster. It is not a communist revolution, or tribal invasion, or viral epidemic. It is overwhelmingly the free choice of an otherwise sane population seeking to protect their current standard of living.
And so it seems that the cruelest villainy in human history is as banal and boring as people trying to “have a good time.”
Of course abortion is a touchy subject, but before you jump to the defensive saying, “It’s my body!”, “Rights of Privacy!” or, worse, “Republican war on women!”–you should remember what it is you are really defending. You are standing on the side of abortion. You are advocating for the most voracious destructive force man has ever mustered against fellow man.
The darkest parts of the human heart are shaded not so much by hate or malice but, more often, by fear, cowardice, and failed efforts at compassion. Put another way the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Lenin, and Pol Pot were all individuals. But they could not have achieved their brutal goals without swaying the masses to believe that their victims are less than human, their death is compassionate, and people should fear any such world where those victims are allowed to continue. Such is the logic of most every genocide, and such is the logic of abortion.
In terms of lives lost, abortion is literally the worst thing ever. The only way I know of to find comparably deadly events is to go theological, pointing to the Fall of Man (Genesis 3), the Great Flood (Genesis 6-11), or Hell and Satan (Revelation 21). But in terms of measurable events in recorded history, Abortion is easily the worst thing ever.
22 thoughts on “Abortion is the worst thing ever…literally”
Seriously, could you point me to a place where you make a clear case that a fertilized ovum, or genetically human in-utero being at any stage of development, is a human person in a sense that is identical to the way you and I are human persons? I’m probably just missing it, as I’m new to the site.
I’m being careful with my words. I have not said “person” but homo sapiens (which is biologically beneath dispute) and since “human being” literally refers to a member of the genus and species “homo sapiens”. As such, you are arguing that it’s ethically permissible to abort what is literally, and there’s no embryologist or fetologist who’d dispute this next point, a human being. Do you still reject this? If so then your beef is not with me but with modern science. Take it up with Lineaus.
No, my “beef” is not with Lineaus, and no, I don’t think that you are being careful enough with your words, honestly. I appreciate the clarification, though, on what you mean by “human” – it is a purely genetic definition.
My beef is with the idea that the capacity to suffer, the presence of a mind, the capacity for any emotion or any sensation whatsoever, and the capacity to live apart from the womb do not, or should not, matter at all when talking about the legality or morality of abortion. The only thing you are willing to consider is the genetic structure of the cell. If we had a choice, for example, between doing something that might harm that cell, and doing that might harm you or me, your standpoint would provide no insight as to how to make that decision whatsoever. That seems like a huge problem.
No, my definition is standard biological taxonomy. A human being is still a human being no matter what stage of development. They can have different types levels of practical access to certain civil rights but as humans theres just cause to respect their human rights as such. The notion of human rights is predicated on humanity. If you want to distinguish between which human beings am be treated as second class citizens and killed for their inconvenience then I suggest you abandon the terminology of “human rights” for a more precise term like “person rights.”
As for you dilemma of harming adults versus embryos I’d split the dilemma and say don’t harm either of them. It’s certainly no cure for women’s pains broadly to kill defenseless little girls in utero. And if we had a more complex dilemma where a mother’s life is in danger then we can appeal to self defense. Even adults can be justifiably killed in grounds of self defense.
Another issue is you are discriminating against human beings because either they lack the kinds of things you have. This is not ideal preferential treatment here either. This is life or death. And since there are dead humans Involved the burden is on you to prove that such killing is justified beyond a reasonable doubt.
I do admit that there are a lot of differences between a fetal human being and a newborn. But the same can be said between a waking toddler and a sleeping senior citizen, a healthy teenager or a bedridden parent. And even if we were to agree that the differences are widest for the case in question–child in utero vs. A birthed child, it’s not my job to prove the ethical innocence of the child in utero. It’s your job to prove the moral permission for aborting that human being.
So, what’ you’re saying is that it is my job to accept your definitions, and then argue within them for something that your definitions weight against me. Or, “I dug this hole. You have to jump into it and then climb out.” Rather, I will not jump into your hole.
By pointing out that there are differences between human beings that I haven’t mentioned, it isn’t as if you have said anything about whether these differences are meaningful or not. You’re simply declaring that they are in no way meaningful, and then asking me to convince you otherwise. You haven’t made a case, you’ve just stated a case.
Despite your intentionally loaded language (and I’ve used my share too), there is a difference between a human with a mind and human without a mind. If a human’s skull is filled with fluid instead of brain tissue (hydrocephalopathy), and another human’s skull is full of functioning brain tissue, and one of those two people has to go hungry, you are declaring that there is absolutely no allowable way to distinguish between them. We must split the food 50/50, and both of them go hungry, but more slowly.
In response to your loaded invitation for me to say how we should discriminate, it’s pretty easy for me to offer a loaded question: why does human suffering not matter to you whatsoever? Why do you not take it into account in your moral reasoning, but rather behave as if it is a nonsense question whether a being is capable of experiencing suffering? See, it’s easy to dig a hole and then ask you to climb out of it.
My point stands, though, so far unanswered except circularly. Or if answered, I missed it. Why does suffering not matter to you when making moral choices? Because in answer to your loaded question, I think that a human who is totally unable to suffer imposes lesser moral demands on us, and on society at large, than a human who is able to suffer and who is at risk for suffering. My reasons here are many, but one is the Golden Rule. Do unto others as I would have them do unto me. This presumes that the person in question has the capacity to prefer being treated one way to another, even at the basic level of “pain bad, pleasure good.” A fertilized egg cannot do that. What I do know beyond a reasonable doubt is that a fertilized egg cannot possibly experience suffering, at least according to Western medical standards (I”m assuming you are not an animist here, and concede that suffering is something nervous systems do). When you (incorrectly) talk about “little girls”, you’re making an argument perhaps about late-term abortions. But here that language is just needlessly provocative. I’m asking about the moment you believe a human has full legal and moral standing, which seems to be the moment of cellular fertilization. If I’m misunderstanding here, I apolotize.
As an aside, I get a bit of a sense that you are arguing with me but also with what you imagine me to be saying. My sense comes from your point about human rights as a term. I don’t think I have used it thus far at all. Yup, just searched this conversation and I hadn’t used it until just now. I’m not sure where you got the term, and I certain might use it if it’s appropriate, but I just thought I’d point this out as something I’d noticed.
Do you agree that when it comes to killing a living human we should not do so unless there is clear and compelling justification? That seems like a safe point of agreement. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth I just assumed that you would agree that when there’s a debate over whether it’s ethical to kill something that MIGHT be an innocent human being we would only accept a high standard of proof before considering that killing justified. In the court of law the comparable standard is: “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Ronald Reagan quipped in this vein that if you don’t know whether that rustling in the bush is a deer or your hunting partner, well, if you don’t know don’t shoot. I’ve yet to meet an abortion choice advocate who has addressed this principle without contradicting themselves in some other ethical sphere.
Human suffering matters a great deal to me that’s why I don’t think we should subject struggling women to the felt sense of murder, harm/decrease their fertility chances in the future, risk the psychogical fallout correlated with abortion, and of course I take it as a central tenet that killing is harm. Also, I don’t think husbands, siblings of the mother, grandparents, or future children should be made to suffer by killing their family member in utero.
Now you have a technical point regarding the felt experience of harm-as-suffering. At least when it’s a child at 7wks development, for example But somewhere between 8 and 20 wks the developing child-in-utero can feel pain. See “The Silent Scream.” If suffering is a key issue for you, would you concede to repealing Roe v. Wade for abortions past 20 wks?
And of course individuals can be harmed without realizing it. They can be harmed through ill-guided good intentions. They can be harmed while thinking they are being helped. And people like us can do a lot of harm and cause a lot of long term suffering trying to be compassionate if we aren’t also taking the sanctity of life seriously or if we forget that we are stewards not kings when it comes to medical authority over life or death.
I also have a lot of material on abortion at another WordPress site Abortionhistorymuseum
Good question though. The identity of the fetal human being is critically important. I wish ever pro-choice advocate cared about enough to search out the question you just asked.
Exactly. At least, it matters a great deal to me. Is it important whether, when discussing harm, the being in question has any capacity to experience the harm? Is it important whether the being has any capacity to live on its/his/her own? Etc. Honestly, I wish every pro-life advocate cared enough to ask that question, too.
I think you are mistaking who has the burden of proof. The burden of proof lies on whoever says we can kill a living human being. Please prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the following entity has no right to live despite being a (1) genetically distinct (2) male or female (3) living (4) human (5) homo sapiens (6) organisms (7) biologically distinct from it’s mother [i.e., not her body, since her body doesn’t have 4 arms, 2 heads, 4 legs, and so on], (8) without moral or legal guilt, (9) endowed with the latent capacity for everything human beings have, (10) a child-in-utero, (11) a member of the human race, (12) and thus a literal human being.
Prochoicers are preoccupied with “personhood” but they often fail to realize how HUMAN rights are predicated on humanity, with only a secondary or practical concern for “personhood” (as there are legal and prosecutorial implications with one’s legal identity before the law–i.e., citizenship, voting rights, miranda rights, etc.). Yet the humanity of the fetal child is beyond serious question.
Our constitution and declaration of independence recognize that “we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are CREATED equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (see also, the 14th Amendment). Now a key word here is “men,” as that has been variously constricted to exclude certain members of society, such as slaves and women. But that very constriction is part of the problem; it dehumanizes other members of the human race, alienating them from their human rights. Our court and legal history may have erred grievously against slaves (the 3/5ths compromise, etc.) and women (pre-suffrage laws, etc.), but we’ve been fortunate to see those errors corrected. Current legal precedent in RvW denies a whole class of human beings even a right to life, and exempts parents for any protection for their own children so long at the child is still in utero. This is not “equal treatment” by any stretch of the term. “Men” means “humanity.” If you want to suggest that “men” does not mean humanity but means only “some” human beings, then I contend that’s precisely the kind of wicked discrimination that served to marginalize women and black people, or prisoners and the feeble, or minors and the elderly. But when “men” means “humanity” those basic rights–equality, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness–are predicated from creation onward. At the time our founding fathers were writing this they didn’t know that the distinct human life begins at conception; and they had no clue about genetics or DNA. We now know that each new human being is created at conception. Why then should I treat a whole class of human beings as so undeserving of life that we can kill them at will, even for such trivial (but legal) reasons as convenience or sexism, or racism? I know one person who had an abortion just because she didn’t want to gain weight.
It seems like the ethics of this moral landscape clearly favor life. Pro-choicers have overall failed to show that certain living human beings, namely, children-in-utero, are neatly and completely divisible from all human rights, yet shy of that proof the pro-choice position collapses.