It has been 26 years since I interviewed the late John Cardinal O’Connor on the theme, “A Nation in Need of Healing.” In our interview, he warned prophetically: “I firmly believe that we will either be a free people without abortion or we will be a slave people, slaves to this violence against human life. We will have no end to war, to hatred, to divisiveness until we generate a new respect for human life.”
He talked about the growing fear among ordinary people. “It is fear of what the political system is capable of doing, fear of the kind of laws legislators are capable of passing, fear of what people in government will do to get elected. And always I think . . . the fear is for their own lives.”
O’Connor also saw hope in the fact that “today there are far more people who recognize perversity as perversity, who recognize evil as evil. They’re frustrated and angry. I haven’t lost hope because that frustration is there. People still have a spark of life, a spark of fire.”
Sadly, the abortion toll in the United States has doubled since that interview, climbing from 31.6 million 26 years ago to an estimated 63.6 million today. It’s as if our top 100 cities were destroyed in a nuclear attack with a 100% fatality rate. And nothing can bring them back.
There is also a growing “echo effect” – millions of babies who will never be born because their parents were aborted. At a 1.8 total fertility rate, that means 57.2 million fewer births by 2040. Already the combined toll of our “lost” American population is over 100 million and climbing. If not for this, our economy would be 30% stronger than it is today.
Paradoxically, bad news is often good news. This population decline has produced a dramatic shortage of labor contributing to record low unemployment rates among Black and Hispanic communities, creating an illusion of prosperity. Right now, there are 1 million more jobs available than there are people to fill them, and the skills gap only tightens the market further.
That, plus lower taxes, less regulation, and new trade deals has given rise to the widely hailed “Trump economy.” However, if not for abortion and its echo effect, the size of our economy would 30% bigger than it is today and the Dow Jones Industrial Average might well be pushing 40,000 instead of 29,000.
In other words, abortion and its echo effect remain the biggest drag on the U.S. and the world economy today. Unless U.S. birth rates reverse their precipitous decline in the near future, we’re pushing it as far as real growth is concerned. Family-centered, prenatal policies – combined with an end to abortion on demand – remain America’s best hope for future prosperity.
What hope is there of that kind of change in our culture and our policies?
After 48 years of abortion on demand and over 50 years of America on the Pill, is the United States on the verge of an inevitable population death spiral similar to that facing Europe, China, and the former Soviet Union?
From the latest trends in births, it certainly seems that way. Since 2007, births have been declining by 1.1% a year while abortions have been dropping by 3% a year. The 1.9% difference between the two trends reflects the success of the pro-life movement in saving lives and discouraging abortion. That is certainly good news.
The bad news, however, is that both trends reflect a decline in the number of young women in their child-bearing years. That's a direct consequence of 59.3 million abortions since 1967 plus 50 years of America on the Pill.
It's called "the echo effect." Babies aborted and births prevented 20 to 40 years ago are simply not around to give birth to a new generation. And that means a steady decline in new births that could last for years based on a detailed analysis of trends by our researchers at Movement for a Better America.