#126 The Economics of Abortion

the christian economist dave arnott

#126 The Economics of Abortion

Abortion is wrong as a Christian means, as well as an economic end. Said another way: Life is right as a Christian means as well as an economic end. 

Thankful to be here

I was on Dennis Prager’s fireside chat recently and made the point that as the Christian Economist, I travel in two camps: Christians – really anyone who believes in a greater being – believe there is a being who gives us instructions about how to lead our lives. Religious people concentrate on the means. Economists almost always concentrate on the ends. The example this week from one of the most renowned economists, Janet Yellen, makes my point better than I did last week on Dennis Prager’s program. Here’s what she said, “Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care including abortion helped lead to increased labor force participation of women.” Let’s see if I can summarize Ms. Yellen’s view. It goes something like, “Reducing the population increases the labor supply.” Huh? Her ill-informed economic statement was uttered just after I recorded the podcast titled “The March of Foolish Things.”

South Carolina Republican Tim Scott rejoined: “Did you say that ending the life of a child is good for the labor force participation rate?” Ms. Yellen demurred but warned that restricting abortion would limit women’s ability to “plan lives that are fulfilling and satisfying” and lead to more unwanted children, especially by black women, “who will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves.” Senator Tim Scott’s response to Chairman Yellen’s idiocy was “I’ll just simply say that as a guy raised by a Black woman in abject poverty, I am thankful to be here as a United States senator.”

The silly book called Freakonomics in 2005 pointed out the correlation between the introduction of abortion in 1973 and the reduction in crime some 20 years later. One of their assumptions was correct: A high percentage of crimes are committed by men in their 20’s. The rest is hogwash. They assumed that the unwanted babies that were aborted in the 1970’s did not grow up to commit crimes in the 1990’s. I have a long-standing rule about not arguing with kindergartners, and I think I’ll employ that standard on this one.

The Value of Life

I explain how the current crop of American Socialists are national socialists in podcast #15 titled Healthcare is not a Moral Right. “National socialists……I’ll allow you to shorten the term yourself.

In Germany and Italy, they killed off the impaired and mentally ill at the beginning of World War II, arguing that the limited supply of hospital beds served a greater utility for soldiers injured in war. This is explained in the very good book titled Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. They were making this very same point that Janet Yellen made this week, arguing that those who detract from the economy should be eliminated, and those who produce should be allowed to live. The Nazis were so immoral. It’s hard to believe we’re witnessing something similar in 2022.

Think about it: Every Democrat policy suggestion should be followed by the phrase, “……for those we allow to live.” Like, “There should be free college tuition…..for those we allow to live.” There should be more electric vehicles…..for those we allow to live.”
Isn’t that sort of like asking, “Other than THAT Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?” Because after THAT, what else matters?

I unpack more on this topic in podcast #23, The Value of Life.

Follow the Money

I sat next to a woman from a pregnancy center called “First Look,” who tries to convince women to give birth instead of having an abortion. Later that day I was visiting with a colleague who earned an economics degree from Harvard, so I asked him, “There’s a well-known, nationwide abortion system called Planned Parenthood. Why isn’t there a nationwide “first look?” His economic answer was pretty concise, “Because abortions create revenue and births cost money.”

By the way, thank you to the Catholic Church for carrying the most water on this project. But that confuses me also: Life is not a religious question, it’s a moral question. It’s interesting to me that the church has to make the argument for life. Life is greater than a social or religious issue, it’s a moral issue. Those who support life are moral, those who don’t are immoral. Simple as that.

In podcast #35 titled Black Lives Matter, I point out the following headline that seems to be missing from today’s news, and EVERY day’s news:
The Democrat Party Policy of Abortion has Reduced the US Black Population by One-Third. Sorry, it’s just a statistical fact. There have been 63 million abortions since 1973. Let’s round that to 60 million to make the math easy. Blacks have 36% of recorded abortions. Let’s round that to 33% to make the math easy. So abortion has reduced the Black population by 20 million. There are 42.5 million blacks in the US. Let’s round that to 40 million to make the math easy. There are 40 million blacks alive and 20 million dead. The Democrat Party Policy of Abortion has Reduced the US Black Population by One-Third. I put the data together on my own, it’s pretty easy to do. The only person I’ve heard say it publicly is Colonel Allen West.

Mouths or Minds?

Are people demanders or suppliers? Said another way: Are people mouths that demand to be fed, or minds who supply information? If you believe in the first, then you want to reduce the world’s population as the United Nations Millennium goal has done. If you believe they are minds to work, then you want to increase the world’s supply of people.

Ms. Yellen overlooks the lost productive contribution of children who were never born. People are assets, the source of inventions and new businesses. Human capital is crucial to economic growth and a dynamic society. China has abandoned its one-child policy, which sometimes included coerced abortions because it foresees a declining population in the years ahead. Developed countries are suffering economically from a shortage of supply of labor. We need a greater supply of people, not less.

In my little book Economics and the Christian Worldview, I wrote, “If God is dead, Malthus was right. He was wrong.” And every Malthusian since has been wrong. One of my favorite questions to ask groups is to complete the following sentence: “Life was better on earth before we ran out of……….” I have asked that question multiple times and still don’t have an answer. I don’t think we’ve ever run out of anything. We might someday. But from Robert Malthus in 1798 to Janet Yellen in 2022, every Malthusian prediction has been wrong.

When Dennis Prager visited DBU a few months ago, he made a very insightful observation about our students, who were interested in getting married and having children, which he juxtaposed to an Atlantic article, quoting women who would not bring children into the world, either because they thought those children would diminish the world’s supply of goods, or there would not be enough goods for them to survive.
I’m presenting a paper on that topic at the Christian Economic Forum in a couple of months titled, “Don’t Fear the Future.” Christians should fear God, not the future. For more on that, take a listen to podcast #88 by the same title, Don’t Fear the Future.


George Orwell wrote a fantasy book titled 1984. It’s not a fantasy anymore. What he called “Newspeak” is now coming true. His examples were

  • bb — Big Brother
  • bellyfeel — The blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea
  • blackwhite — To accept whatever one is told, regardless of the facts

Here are some newspeak words used by the abortion bunch:

  • Planned Parenthood — If you had planned, you wouldn’t be pregnant. And if you wanted to be a parent, you wouldn’t be having an abortion
  • Fetus — It’s a baby, but they call it a fetus because that sounds less personal. Toys-R-Us had a division called “Babies-R-Us.” I doubt if they considered changing it to “Fetuses-R-Us.” Ever seen a “fetus card” or attended a “Fetus shower?” Me neither. It’s a baby, but they call it a fetus, the medical term that the “Newspeakers” have adopted. Adopted……get it? Oh, by the way, Toys-R-Us went bankrupt while donating money to Planned Parenthood. Selah on that for a moment…..They donated funds to an organization that reduced their target market’s population. No wonder they went bankrupt
  • Reproductive Rights — They claim to want to protect reproductive rights. I’ll just point out that every one of the 63 million aborted babies has lost their reproductive rights.

There’s a guy in ethics named Rawls, who might be the progenitor of the Kelly Blue Book. Here’s how it works, this guy Rawls said that we should adopt a veil of ignorance. I have a 2010 Chevy pick-up truck that I want to sell for $5000. As the buyer, you think it’s worth $3000. How do we settle this? Rawls says we drop a veil of ignorance on both the buyer and the seller. That’s the Kelly Bluebook if you’re wondering how that enters the conversation. In abortion, we ask what an impartial observer would say. If you know your economics, that’s from Adam Smith – yes, THAT guy, in his first book titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Applied to abortion, Rawls would want to ask the baby: Do you want to stay there in your warm, mother’s womb or be cut to pieces and sucked out with a vacuum cleaner? The answer is rather obvious, isn’t it? I will take the liberty to re-phrase what Ronald Reagan said, “Everyone who is for abortion, can’t be a victim of it.”

Just two more subjects quickly, because I’m running out of time. Science is based on observation. Why don’t we all observe an abortion? If it’s such a great thing, let’s take a look. By the way, medical science says the baby is not a part of the mother. It is a separate being.

And law. Legally, the baby is a separate being. A pregnant woman can drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in Dallas because there are two people in the car. If you cause an accident that kills a pregnant woman, you can be charged with TWO counts of homicide.

Abortion is wrong as a Christian means, and it’s wrong as an economic end. Or said the other way, life is right as a Christian means, and as an economic end.

Fear God
Tell  the Truth
Earn a Profit


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