Give Chelsea Clinton credit for getting at the heart of the utilitarian argument for abortion. Most abortion activists put it in terms of women’s rights — and Clinton does here, too — but it’s almost always framed in the utilitarian context of “wanted” children. The former First Daughter just puts that into the ledger sheet:
“Whether you fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access right, because these are not the same thing, if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency – you have to care about this,” Clinton said Saturday at a “Rise Up for Roe” event.
She added, “It is not a disconnected fact … that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy. Right? The net, new entrance of women – that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”
“So, I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue,” Clinton continued. She added, “Of course, I would hope that they would care about our equal rights and dignity to make our own choices – but, if that is not sufficiently persuasive, hopefully, come some of these other arguments that you’ve expressed so beautifully, will be.”
So what does that amount to on the ledger? Three and a half trillion divided by 60 million abortions splits out to $58,333 and some change each. That sounds significant, but when split between 330 million Americans who managed to avoid the abortionist, it amounts to … two-hundredths of a cent per capita. Each. Giving Chelsea as much credit possible, though, we’d get that every year.
Count Charles C. W. Cooke among the less impressed with his $0.0002 per annum, and the argument that supports it:
The problem with this argument, obviously, is that it is entirely unresponsive to the debate over abortion, which is not economic in nature, but moral. If unborn children are not living human beings — and if, therefore, it doesn’t matter if they are aborted — then obviously one will be in favor of abortion, especially if it leads to salutary economic news. If, by contrast, unborn children are living human beings — and if, therefore, aborting them is tantamount to murder — then the utilitarian argument is flatly irrelevant. Saying “but look at the effects of killing unborn children on GDP!” to a person who believes that unborn children are living human beings is futile. In no moral universe are they going to make that trade.
And nor, for that matter, would the person making the case. Presumably Chelsea Clinton believes it is wrong to murder human beings ex utero. If so, she knows how she’d react to someone saying, “Whether you fundamentally care about murder or not, you should be able to connect with the fact that killing one in ten Los Angelenos will ease the traffic and reduce the Medicaid rolls.” And if Clinton doesn’t know that — if, in other words, she holds the hyper-utilitarian view that abortion is murder but it’s worth it for an additional three-and-a-half trillion dollars — well, then she’s a monster.
Besides, the assumptions in her utilitarian argument shouldn’t go unchallenged, either. If it’s true that preventing people from entering the world raises our GDP because it gives us more opportunity to earn, then … that’s basically the same argument we hear from people who want to completely shut down immigration into the US, too. Usually, people from Chelsea’s clique argue the exact opposite, and with some justification — that new entrants into the country generate economic growth thanks to their demand for goods and services and eventual ability to provide either or both back into the economy. Why wouldn’t that be true for the 60 million unborn children we blocked from entering the country? Wouldn’t they have eventually boosted the economy the same as immigrants do?
Anyway, that’s my two cents. Which should last me the next hundred years in Chelsea’s economy.