A Satire, Not an Instruction Manual

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Infant’s flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.

Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal (1729)

To sell abortion, arguments about feminism, a woman’s right to choose, equality, freedom, etc., are used for the masses, but the forces that were behind the drive to legalize abortion tended to be clear, at least when talking among themselves, that eugenics was the prime motivation.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, remembers those days clearly, and, no doubt to the dismay of many contemporary liberals, tends to be fairly honest about that motivation.  Kevin Williamson at National Review Online examines how the eugenics motivation still is the driving force behind abortion:


Ruth Bader Ginsburg, having decided for some inexplicable reason to do a long interview with a fashion magazine (maybe it is her celebrated collection of lace collars), reaffirmed the most important things we know about her: her partisanship, her elevation of politics over law, and her desire to see as many poor children killed as is feasibly possible.

Speaking about such modest restrictions on abortion as have been enacted over the past several years, Justice Ginsburg lamented that “the impact of all these restrictions is on poor women.” Then she added: “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.”

This is not her first time weighing in on the question of what by any intellectually honest standard must be described as eugenics. In an earlier interview, she described the Roe v. Wade decision as being intended to control population growth, “particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” She was correct in her assessment of Roe; the co-counsel in that case, Ron Weddington, would later advise President Bill Clinton: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country,” by making abortifacients cheap and universally available. “It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.”

In 1980, the punk band the Dead Kennedys released a song called “Kill the Poor.” In it, singer Jello Biafra considers the many benefits to be had from the policy he is singing about: the elimination of “unsightly slums,” the lowering of welfare taxes, reduction of overcrowding, reduction in crime, etc. “The sun beams down on a brand new day,” he declares, “Jane Fonda on the screen today convinced the liberals it’s okay.” To be sure, Mr. Biafra wasn’t singing about abortion; his tongue-in-cheek proposal was for the relatively antiseptic measure of striking poor neighborhoods and housing projects with neutron bombs, eliminating the populations but preserving property values. A ghastly and satirical proposal, to be sure, but not really so different from the case that Justice Ginsburg and others of her ilk make for eliminating those “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

“We only whisper it.”

The economist Steven Levitt, for example, has argued that abortion helped to bring down crime rates; that probably isn’t true, but it has not stopped abortion enthusiasts from incorporating crime-reduction into their case for killing the poor. Abortion as a tool of population control remains very much in vogue, particularly with international organizations: “To avoid a world with deteriorating social, economic, and political stability, with the concomitant loss of personal and national security, we must ensure that safe abortion is made available,” writes the American population-control activist and academic Steven Mumford, who also advocates mass sterilizations.

Go here to read the rest.  When I was in school and read A Modest Proposal, my teachers made plain to me that it was a satire, Swift’s way of pointing out the hard hearts of the English for the vast numbers of Irish poor.  I can only assume that many liberals who read the story took it for an instruction manual.

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  1. This calls to mind Sir Dugald Baird’s 1965 paper – A Fifth Freedom? (freedom from “the tyranny of excessive fertility”) in which he complains that “in the second five-year plan for India only $10 million was allocated for population control as against $14 million for malaria control, a measure which, by lowering death rates quickly, could further aggravate the population crisis and reduce the standard of living, in that more capital, skills, and experience are absorbed in looking after children and young people and less is available for industrial development.”

    Such insouciance is remarkable in a medical man (Baird was Regius Professor of Midwifery at Aberdeen University Hospital). He was a leading light, not only of the Abortion Law Reform Association and the Family Planning Association, but of the British Eugenics Society (now the Galton Institute), founded in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society. He delivered the 1970 Galton Lecture on “The Obstetrician & Society.”

    During Baird’s tenure, one pregnancy in 50 was terminated in Aberdeen, where he could give his eugenic views free rein, compared to one in 3,750 in Glasgow. Ian Donald, the Regius Professor of Midwifery at Glasgow once sardonically remarked that Baird’s choice of medicine as a career had deprived the cattle industry of a first-class stock-breeder.

    Baird was Sir David Steele’s principle advisor on his 1967 Abortion Bill.

  2. This is one fact indisputable; In America, we do not suffer a lack of executioner’s. R. B. Ginsburg being one of the most influential.

    In heaven mansions designated for many have been forfeited by the intended occupants lack of compassion while on earth.

    Pray for their souls, the educated derelict’s that play God.

  3. It is important for Catholics in America to educate ourselves concerning this primary ‘force’ in our culture. It is not simply Sanger and Planned Parenthood but many major companies and personages associated with them (both past and present). The power is formidable. The Culture of Death has infested so many levels of our society that it is incredible.

  4. Botolph wrote, “The Culture of Death has infested so many levels of our society that it is incredible.” Not least the learned professions.

    Thus, in Scotland, the text-book writers had always acknowledged that an abortion performed in good faith to preserve the life and health of the mother was not criminal. The Crown Office (the prosecuting authority) relied on purely external criteria: consultation with colleagues, a general practitioner, a gynaecologist, a psychiatrist; admission to hospital; observation of the usual ethical procedures, such as a consultant being called in by the general practitioner; the keeping of proper records. Above all, gratuity was regarded as a guarantee of good faith. The actions of a salaried professor or other consultant operating in a public hospital were considered beyond question.
    Thus, the law did not police the medical profession and the medical profession ceased to police itself.

  5. I hope it’s okay to place this appeal here.

    Our forty days for life campaign is underway. Hours of prayer before our local P.P. aka Murder Inc., is having an effect around the country. If you haven’t already signed up, please consider it.

    The culture of death can not win, however they can take more babies until the end, so please help with your witness now and shorten the time of this hideous culture.
    Thank you.

  6. I join with you Philip in encouraging others to volunteer with 40 Days for Life.

    I am participating in my local campaign as well. May God save the babies and their moms.

  7. “The economist Steven Levitt, for example, has argued that abortion helped to bring down crime rates; that probably isn’t true, but it has not stopped abortion enthusiasts from incorporating crime-reduction into their case for killing the poor.”
    Innocent until proven guilty. Habeas Corpus. The Fifth Amendment. The Right to Life. What unalienable human right has abortion not declared null and void.

  8. “Thus, in Scotland, the text-book writers had always acknowledged that an abortion performed in good faith to preserve the life and health of the mother was not criminal.”
    The death of the mother must be imminent as proof of the condition. Babies have been brought into the world after being attached to and growing outside of the womb.
    The destruction of the baby’s body is against the law. Destruction of the baby’s character, as destroying the mother, the mother whom the baby caused to be a mother, is not addressed, nor the destruction of civilization caused by the eugenicists is not acknowledged. Who in hell do they think that they are? Which tells us where they come from and what devil is leading the parade.

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