A column from 2013 on China's horrendous abortion numbers.
Note: This blog entry was changed May 21 to show the correct numbers of abortions in China annually, and corrected calculations for the U.S.
When people learn that we in America have about 1 million abortions a year, they are often horrified. The truth is, our numbers are small compared to China's. China's population in 2015 was 1.371 billion, and Chinese had about 23 million abortions the same year, that is, an abortion number equal to about 1.7% of its population. If we were to match that, we would have to have well over 5 million abortions, instead of the million or so that we have every year. Abortion must be the leading cause of intended death in human history, beating all wars.
The beginning of industrial-scale abortion was the development of suction curretage in Communist Russia in the early 1920s. Abortionists everywhere could set up a series of women in one room after another, zip into the first and do their awful work for ten minutes, and then go to the next room, and so forth, and make a killing in the figurative sense, too. This has been the pattern here in the States, too, with abortionists occasionally flying from city to city to do their dirty work.
It is not surprising that societies founded on materialism should be so callous towards human beings. (The Communist philosophy is hostile to the notion of any power beyond the "dialectic of history," so individuals are of value only if they advance that dialectic by being on "the right side of history.") Or, to put it another way, it is remarkable how humanizing the Christian religion has been in the Western world (and still is).
Even we Christians, however, are tempted to despair when we read these mind-numbing numbers. We are tempted to say to ourselves, "What is saving one life, when so many, many die?"
Against these monolithic horrors, however, we can only cling to the truth that God sees everything, that he does not give up on humanity, as despicable as we may be in some instances. Jesus says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:29-30). God's care for us as individuals is the basis of our care for others. If others treat people like cattle, that is not our way.
We know that every intentional killing of an innocent human being is an offence to God and humankind. Why doesn't God stop the killing? Perhaps he will. He can exercise judgment on nations in history, and he may yet judge the Chinese for their mass destruction of the image of God -- we don't know.
He has given each of us this tremendous freedom, which we can abuse. We can take some consolation from the fact that each of us, including the abortionists, must appear before "the awesome judgment seat of Christ." And we can be chastened by the same thought, for we, too, are sinners in need of His mercy.
Chris Humphrey has been involved in pro-life activity of one kind or another since the late 1970s, when he first looked at the subject of abortion in seminary in Canada. He has an undergraduate degree in English (University of Toronto), and M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies (McGill). He has had a varied career as a pastor, chaplain in a psychiatric hospital, editor of academic and instructional publications, semi-professional photographer, and home renovator. He is a husband of over 40 years to Edith (a Professor of New Testament), father to three girls, and grandfather to twelve grandchildren. He lives and works in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh.