Abortion is an insignificant issue?

By Hendrik van der Breggen
March 11, 2020

“Mass” by Ron Mueck (2017)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Abortion is an insignificant issue?
No. Perspective is needed.
Consider this: Every year in Canada about 100,000 unborn children are killed by abortion. The significance of this number may be difficult to grasp, so think about the gun control discussion. Compare the abortion number to the number of homicides that occur yearly in Canada.
Here are the most recent numbers from Statistics Canada for homicides, where “homicide” includes murder, manslaughter, and infanticide, whether a gun is used or not:
Year 2014: homicides 523
Year 2015: homicides 610
Year 2016: homicides 615
Year 2017: homicides 666
Year 2018: homicides 6511
That’s 613 homicides per year versus about 100,000 unborn children destroyed per year. In other words, approximately 0.6 percent of killings in Canada are due to homicide, and approximately 99.4 percent are due to abortion.
Yes, there are tough cases that might justify abortion. For examples, rape, incest, threats to the life of the mother. But these tough cases account for a very small percentage of the total abortions. Ethicist Charles Camosy, in his book Beyond the Abortion Wars, says the tough cases amount to 2 percent of the total cases.2 I’ve heard others report that it might be 5 percent. Whether 2 or 5 percent, it’s a small percentage. That means an awful lot of cases are due to social problems. But, surely, social problems require social solutions, not the killing of children.3
                1.   “Number, percentage and rate of homicide victims, by sex and Aboriginal identity,” Statistics Canada, September 24, 2019.
                2. Charles C. Camosy, Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation (Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K., 2015), 20.
                3. For discussion of the special case in which the life of the mother is threatened, see my column The life-of-mother-versus-life-of-child situation justifies abortion? For a discussion of the special case of rape, see my column Abortion and the hard cases. On the question of whether the unborn are human beings, see sections 2, 5, and 6 of the following article. And on the question of whether the unborn are persons, see section 7. “Untangling popular “pro-choice” claims and arguments concerning abortion.”

NOTE TO CRITICS: Please take a look at least a few of my previous articles on abortion (see archives) before offering a comment or criticism. Thanks.

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. 

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