Why Do So Many "Pro-Choice" Groups Support Forced Abortion?

Brian Clowes
August 7, 2020
Reproduced with Permission
Human Life International

When they founded NARAL in the 1960s, reformed abortionist Bernard Nathanson and his colleague Larry Lader dreamed up the label "pro-choice."1 Of all the slogans they produced, it has turned out to be the biggest lie of all. From its beginning, leading elements of the so-called "pro-choice" movement have vocally supported forced abortion and contraception - for everyone but wealthier white women.

As far back as the 1950s, dozens of leading eugenicists publicly recommended forced abortion, sterilization and contraception for non-white and poor populations. These included playwright Robert Ardrey, ecologist Garrett Hardin,2 psychologist Wayne Bartz, and Edgar Chasteen, who recommended mandatory contraception in his popular book The Case for Compulsory Birth Control . 3

Many were particularly concerned that Catholics were having bigger families than Protestants. Population Reference Bureau sociologist Elmer Pendell claimed, "The Catholics are promulgating a breeding program to gain political control in the United States." In his 1951 book entitled Population on the Loose , he laid out a detailed 19-point eugenics law which would reward childbearing by those with better genetic pedigrees and severely limit and punish it among the lower and poorer classes.4

U.S. Support for Forced Abortion

As the foundation of the modern "pro-choice" movement was laid in the 1960s, the mortar holding all of its ideas together was the belief that mandatory measures would be required in order to control the childbearing of lesser classes for the good of the human race and for the environment.

The most notorious pusher of mandatory population control measures was Paul Ehrlich. In his shabby 1968 book The Population Bomb , he recommended the establishment of a huge Federal Department of Population and Environment (DPE), which would have the legal power to dictate how many children couples could have.5

Two years later, in his more detailed book Ecoscience, he wrote, "It has been concluded that mandatory population control laws, even those requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under our existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently compelling to endanger the society. Many consider the situation already serious enough to justify some forms of compulsion." His recommended measures included mandatory abortion and sterilization, adding sterilizing agents to water supplies or staple foods, and the establishment of an armed international force with the power to enforce these measures. All of this was meant to lead to what Ehrlich called a "Planetary Regime."6 In 2013, Ehrlich claimed that "nobody has the right to as many children as they want."

Apparently, "reproductive rights" go only one way.

It should be alarming (but apparently isn't) even to "pro-choice" people that the co-author of Ehrlich's book is President Barack Obama's current "Science Czar," John Holdren.

Perhaps the most influential person to express support of forced population control measures was Population Council President Bernard Berelson, who in 1969 drew up a detailed program which included adding sterilizing agents to the water supplies of the United States, compulsory sterilization of all men with three or more children, and mandatory abortion for all illegitimate pregnancies.7 He was joined by Alan F. Guttmacher, former Medical Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who asserted, "Each country will have to decide its own form of coercion and determine when and how it should be employed. At present, the means available are compulsory sterilization and compulsory abortion. Perhaps someday a way of enforcing compulsory birth control will be feasible."8

Unfortunately, those with extreme ideas rapidly rose to positions of power in the feverish days of belief in the "population bomb." As one example, two of the recommendations of the 1969 White House Conference on Hunger were "(1) mandatory abortion for any unmarried girl found to be within the first three months of pregnancy, and (2) mandatory sterilization of any such girl giving birth out of wedlock for a second time."9

Inevitably, the push for forced population control measures found their way into official United States foreign policy. This led to NSSM-200 , "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests," which was published by the United States National Security Council in 1974. NSSM-200's new population control strategy aimed to inspire "increased motivation for smaller family size" in developing nations by any means possible. NSSM-200 said:

Mandatory programs may be needed and…we should be considering these possibilities now.…Will we be forced to make choices as to whom we can reasonably assist, and if so, should population efforts be a criterion for such assistance? Is the U.S. prepared to accept food rationing to help people who can't/won't control their population growth?…Are mandatory population control measures appropriate for the U.S. and/or for others?10

NSSM-200 has never been superseded or modified. Therefore, it remains official United States population control policy.

Support for Forced Abortion in China

As a wave of pro-life laws sweep the states of the nation, many inconsistencies in pro-abortion thinking are becoming glaringly evident.

Perhaps the most vivid example is the fact that many "pro-choice" leaders bitterly denounce pro-life legislators for purportedly "dictating to women how they can control their own bodies ." But many of the same people either wholeheartedly applaud China's forced‑abortion and forced‑sterilization program or remain studiously silent about it. Perhaps this is because some of these people are not "pro-choice" at all, except when it comes to middle-class and upper-class white women. In fact, some of them hold up China's population control program as a model for the entire world to follow.

Ted Turner's Better World Society has presented its "Envision a Better World" award to Wang Wei, the head of the China Family Planning Association.11 According to the website of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the CFPA is a "full" member of IPPF, and boasts that its employees "not only provide information, education and services in reproductive health, but also promote rights awareness." These are the foot soldiers who track and display women's menstrual cycles, watch like hawks to make certain that women take their birth control pills, and control the mechanism that identifies and punishes families who deviate from the program. Since it essentially runs the Chinese forced abortion program, the International Planned Parenthood Federation has praised its "extraordinary success," and says that it "is carried out in a very responsible way."12

Many other "pro-choice" and environmental groups are enthusiastic about China's policies, praise them, and go so far as to recommend that they be applied all over the world.

Friends of the Earth published a guide entitled Progress as if Survival Mattered , which urged governments to "embrace coercion" to "curb breeding."13 Molly Yard, former President of the National Organization for Women, was foremost in lauding the Chinese program, calling it "among the most intelligent in the world," and referring to forced abortion as "the only responsible policy they can have."14 Sarah Epstein, a board member of the Population Institute, claimed that "the Chinese system is both compassionate and fair."15

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America,16 the WorldWatch Institute,17 Zero Population Growth (renamed Population Connection),18 and many, many other "pro-choice" groups have supported the Chinese program, but none is more effusive in its praise than the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA . Its first Executive Director, Rafael Salas, said, "Each country has its view of what is free, a free choice. If you refer to the case of China, I am very sure that the Chinese themselves will say that within their cultural norms, they are not at all coercive."19 He was followed by Nafis Sadik, who referred to herself as "China's old friend," and said that China "is to be congratulated on its successful [population control] programs."20 She in turn was followed by Thoraya Obaid, who said, "China, having adopted practical measures in accordance with her current situation, has scored remarkable achievements in population control."21

In fact, it is very difficult indeed to find a "pro-choice" group that has not praised or directly supported the Chinese forced abortion program in some manner. There are a few, however, who are brave enough to voice their true opinions and describe their vision for an ideal world. One of these is Pentti Linkola of Finland, a popular speaker among environmentalists and "pro-choicers." He believes that all cars should be confiscated, that development and use of all forms of technology must be discouraged, and that a two-child family be a norm enforced worldwide by an armed "Green Police." In a breathtaking inversion of reality, Linkola said, "Those who hate life try to pull more people on board and drown everybody. Those who love and respect life use axes to chop off the extra hands hanging on the gunwale….Our only hope lies in strong central government and uncompromising control of the individual citizen."22

We have only to compare our own lives twenty years ago with what they are like now to see how much of Linkola's frightening vision has become reality.

Final Thoughts

Given the pro-abortion movement's consistent support of forced abortion, we should be questioning whether it actually supports women's choice.

Is the pro-abortion movement about "reproductive freedom"?