There’s a rumour going around, perpetuated by bumper stickers and politicians, that “God is pro-life.” It’s an interesting claim, and since everyone seems to want God (i.e. the heavy guns) on their side, I thought I’d examine it.
Michael Sandel, (yes, that Sandel) while working on the presidential Council on Bioethics, wrung this statement from expert witness John M. Opitz, MD:
Sandel: “…[W]hat percent of fertilized eggs fail to implant or are otherwise lost?”
Opitz: “Estimates range all the way from 60 percent to 80 percent of the very earliest stages, cleavage stages, for example, that are lost.“
Hmmm…. so, in 2003, there were about 4 million babies born in the United States. Given the most conservative estimate of 60% lost before parturition, that means that 6 million embryos were destroyed by natural causes. This is convenient, as it is the most popular estimate for Jewish deaths during the Shoah (Holocaust). Since I’ve previously railed against the equation of abortion with genocide, this seems apropos.
If I can find some global population statistics that chart total human population throughout history, I’m thinking of putting up a running total: Abortions: God v. Man. This would be especially interesting given plague and disaster death rates, plus historical v. current infant mortality rates. Sadly, I’m not a statistician, I’m a philosopher, so I’ll continue to depend on the experts. The CDC recorded 857,000 abortions in 2000, so, to keep the numbers round, let’s say 1 million.
Humans: 1 million
God: 6 million
I would argue that any God worthy of invocation (i.e., an intelligent designer, deist or participatory) would not design a system with such a lousy success rate if this deity were concerned primarily with the survival of all embryos. Thus, God is objectively not pro-life. If you believe in predestination or election, then all conceivable omnipotent and omniscient creator-Gods must be understood as pro-choice (not ours, though) and pro-death.