Private Totalitarianism, Writ Large

The Economist recently depicted the practice of sex-selective abortion as a Worldwide War on Baby GirlsSome parts of India and China now have up to 120 males born for every hundred females; in China’s Hubei province the ratio is 135 to 100. The Lancet reported, back in 2006, that there were 100 million girls missing from the world as a result of the practice which is, interestingly, more common among the wealthy and highly educated in India.

But even publications that have done a service by bringing these alarming gender imbalances to light tend to avoid fundamental judgments about abortion itself. The Economist reminds us of their official editorial position – the inane cop-out that that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Then, it carefully states that the “cumulative consequence for societies of such individual actions” has been “catastrophic,” which leaves the impression that they would be content if it were just more gender equitable. Without condemning the underlying act always and everywhere, one can only lament its uneven distribution in practice.

In 2009, the British Medical Journal published findings of a nationally representative demographic survey conducted in China showing that there were 32 million more males than females under the age of 20 in 2005. The authors of the study chose to say, “1.1 million excess births of boys occurred” in 2005 – rather than to depict the imbalance as a deficit of females. It is possible, I suppose, to read too much into that awkward statement, but it certainly appears to have been made with deliberate forethought.

The recent revelation that 41 percent of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion came as a shock. That’s twice the national average. But the figure was 59.8 percent among African Americans, much higher than even Eastern Europe, which has the highest abortion rate in the world; according to a comprehensive 2007 Lancet report, the region (afflicted with suffocating socialism for seven decades) still averages 105 abortions for every 100 live births.

Would it be overheated rhetoric, then, to say that there is a war on African American babies? Auxiliary Bishop of Washington D.C Martin Holley doesn’t think so; he notes that without the 13-million abortions in the black community since Roe v. Wade the present black population would have increased by about one-third. Dr. Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) pulls no punches either, saying “the great irony is that abortion has done what the Klan only dreamed of.”

Is the black baby an endangered species?

Well over a third of all abortions in America occur among blacks. Recent CDC data indicate that the number of abortions among black Americans surpasses their seven leading causes of death combined: heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. (Last year’s CDC abortion report was held up for the first time ever without explanation, but will apparently soon be released).

It is curious how abortion has wound up devouring groups of people – blacks in the United States, females in the East – the very groups its advocates claim to champion. In that, it also eerily mimics the victimization patters of virulent forms of socialism.

The main thing that distinguished Nazism from Communism was which group wound up in the crosshairs of the powerful. Nazi Germany implemented its particular brand of socialism through the prism of race – and the Jews were targeted. The Soviet Union (itself rife with anti-Semitism) emphasized class distinctions; the promise of a workers paradise landed powerless workers in the gulag or in the ground. But the two ideologies were intellectual “first cousins,” not wholly distinct systems, as Jean-Francois Revel makes abundantly clear in Last Exit to Utopia: the Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era. They were both “dictatorships of ideas.” Both required the “abolition of the individual . . . of the human being.”

Soviet man, writes Revel, was to be merely “a cog in the vast grinding machinery of socialism”, and treated as “a molecule within the social organism.” This, of course, is precisely what also happens with abortion. Incipient life is viewed as a collection of “molecules” – a clump of cells – wholly subordinate to the larger “organism.” What is the “right to privacy” if not private totalitarianism, in which autocratic rule of the mother prevails over the powerless developing human being? To the mother who has decided to abort, the baby is the ultimate dissident.

Only someone committed at all costs to “the original decision of the woman” could vote against protecting babies who survive an attempted abortion, as Barack Obama savagely did. The savagery displayed by that Philadelphia “doctor” who doubled back to take out babies who escaped the first attempt on their lives is not wildly different from what Obama felt should be the law of the land.

Such is the man who is bent on socializing health care (one-sixth of the economy) and who attempts, at every turn and with great duplicity, to collectivize “the right to privacy.” Leonid Brezhnev felt that “morality is whatever serves the interests of Communism.” Obama appears to have concluded that morality is whatever serves the interests of Planned Parenthood, whom he has referred to – chillingly – as a “safety net provider.”

The mind controllers in George Orwell’s 1984 couldn’t have said it better. Planned Parenthood already takes in hundreds of millions in government grants, posts handsome profits, and holds abundant assets. Who knew that providing a “safety net” was so lucrative? Mercenaries, I suppose, have always made a killing, and what is the culture of death but, as John Paul put it in Evangelium Vitae, a “war of the powerful against the weak.”

Matthew Hanley’s new book, Determining Death by Neurological Criteria: Current Practice and Ethics, is a joint publication of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and Catholic University of America Press.