In last week’s podcast, “Jonathan Wells on Why a Baby Should Live,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed molecular and cell biologist Jonathan Wells on that topic, which he discussed in articles at Evolution News and Science Today: (here and here). It’s becoming a hot topic now that a bill to protect babies born alive from abortions from being killed or left to die was recently defeated in the Senate. At the heart of the issue is the conflict between those who believe that all human beings have a right to life and those who believe that children do not have a right to live before they are self-aware. In this segment, Egnor and Wells ask, why are Black American abortion rates so high?
A partial transcript follows. This portion begins at about 9:55. Show notes and links follow.
Michael Egnor: There has been a great deal of discussion in the public arena, in the press, over the past couple of months about racial disparities in this country. About bias against minorities, particularly against black people. Are there racial disparities in abortion?
Jonathan Wells: Absolutely. And even abortion advocates, I think, will acknowledge this. Black people are far more likely to get abortions than white people. Hispanic, somewhat more likely. So there’s a definite racial, ethnic divide here. And to me, it’s evidence of something very sinister at work.
Note: Estimates vary but all show an unusually high Black abortion rate: For example,
“According to recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, while African-Americans constitute 32.2 percent of Georgia’s population, 62.4 percent of abortions in Georgia are performed on African-American women. By contrast, whites constitute 60.8 percent of the Georgia population, but only 24.7 percent of abortions were performed on white women. Even pro-abortion groups like the Guttmacher Institute admit that “black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion.” – Arthur Goldberg, “Abortion’s Devastating Impact Upon Black Americans” at Witherspoon Institute (February 11, 2019)
Michael Egnor: My understanding is that black babies are, in the United States, are aborted at three and a half times the rate of white babies. And that, in fact, the number of black children who are killed by abortion each year is equal to the total of all black mortality in this country, besides abortion. So half of the black people who die each year die because of abortion. But it’s interesting that this never seems to come up in discussions of racial disparity. It seems to not be part of the conversation, and it certainly ought to be, I think.
Note: Some put the high rate down to inferior health care generally but there may be more to the story: Most Black women who have children are also single: “While 74.3 percent of all White children below the age of 18 live with both parents, only 38.7 percent of African-American minors can say the same.” (Zenitha Prince, Afro, 2016). Single mothers usually experience many more difficulties that might create pressure to abort than married ones.
Abortion is also made easy for Black American women: “Eighty percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics are within easy walking distance of minority neighborhoods and 60 percent are in minority zip codes.” – Carol M. Swain, First Things, (February 5, 2021)
Over the past decade, Black Americans have also become more supportive of abortion than in the past. The Congressional Black Caucus stands by Planned Parenthood. (Carol M. Swain, First Things, (February 5, 2021)
Jonathan Wells (pictured): I agree. And some opponents of abortion have courageously painted things like Black Babies’ Lives Matter in front of abortion clinics. They end up suffering for it, sometimes arrest, because it doesn’t go with the Woke narrative that we’re all supposed to swallow.
Note: One outcome of the growing acceptance and practice of abortion in Black American communities is long term decline in numbers (demographic decline):
“These abortion numbers have curtailed population increases in the African-American community. Michael Novak calculated in 2002 that without the incidence of abortion, the African-American population would show at least a 36-percent increase. Even this number does not take into account the number of children who may have been born to those who were aborted.” (Goldberg “Abortion’s Devastating Impact Upon Black Americans”)
Demographic patterns, sustained over time, become a cascade. If each generation is smaller than the last, the voice or vote of a community usually becomes less significant over time (demographic sunset).
Next: Do babies really feel pain before they are self-aware? Michael Egnor discusses the fact that the thalamus, deep in the brain, creates pain. The cortex moderates it. Thus, juveniles may suffer more. Jonathan Wells recalls, from when he was a lab technologist, how very premature infants would scream when he took a drop of blood for tests.
Previous: Do infants really have a right to live? Some argue that children who are not yet self-aware do not have a right to live.
Some countries now practice child euthanasia and there is pressure in Canada to ease restrictions on euthanasia, to include children.
When does “human-ness” really begin? Jonathan Wells notes that issues around “personhood” are now purely semantic, especially when the case is being made that many animals are persons too. Michael Egnor: It seems odd to say that a zygote isn’t fully human when, as human beings, we have all been zygotes.
- 00:26 | Introducing Jonathan Wells
- 01:13 | The reasoning behind after-birth abortion defenses
- 03:00 | Peter Singer and human sentience
- 04:36 | At what point does human life begin?
- 07:28 | Do all human beings have personhood?
- 09:29 | Abortion statistics in the U.S.
- 09:55 | Racial disparities in abortion
- 11:44 | Can the fetus feel pain?
- 14:57 | The Silent Scream
- 18:44 | The legal future of abortion
- 21:20 | Arguments for Roe v. Wade from evolutionary biology
- Jonathan Wells at Discovery.org
- Jonathan Wells: “Why Should a Baby Live?” at Evolution News
- Jonathan Wells: “At What Point In Its Development Can a Human Being Feel Pain?” at Evolution News
- “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva
- Peter Singer
- The Silent Scream on Youtube
- Campaign Life Coalition in Canada
- “House Passes Bill Requiring Anesthesia for Fetal Surgery” at Montana Public Radio
- “Haeckel’s Fraudulent Embryo Drawings Are Still Present in Biology Textbooks – Here’s a List” at Evolution News