According to an online archive citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, 12,517,320 abortions occurred in the United States during the birth years of Generation X (1961-1981). There was a sharp rise in 1973, following Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure to end unwanted or life-threatening pregnancies.
Since 2007, the year I started blogging about Gen-Xers, I’ve come across several news articles and blog posts about the impact of abortion on Generation X. Most villainize Baby Boomer women and cite abortion as the reason Generation X is 30 million fewer in number than Boomers and Generation Y. (The historian Neil Howe once wrote a very interesting post about Gen X’s actual numbers, which exceed all other generations when figuring numbers of immigrants.) Two memes have emerged from this theory: “I survived the abortion holocaust” and “I survived Roe vs. Wade.”
In reality, abortion has had a much bigger impact on Generation Y. According to the same data, 38,127,070 abortions occurred in the United States between 1982 and 2008. (Generation Z begins around 1996.) That number is more than three times higher than the number of abortions that occurred between 1961 and 1981 (the birth years for Generation X according to Howe and William Strauss).
While it’s true that Generation X was born during the greatest anti-child phase in human history, it is also true that 30 percent of Gen X women have had an abortion, and these abortions contributed significantly to the startling 38 million abortions that occurred between 1982 and 2008.
Who Is The Pro Life Generation?
Some argue that Generation X is the pro life generation including Christy Stuzman. Following the March for Life in Washington D.C. in January, she wrote an opinion editorial for the Washington Times. But, statistics indicate that Generation Y is more pro-life than Generation X. The abortion rate has been steadily falling for more than 20 years, but the trend has sharply accelerated in recent years. According to a survey by the Associated Press, there’s been a 12 percent decrease in abortions since 2010. Of course, these numbers are likely skewed by abortifacient pharmaceutical drugs.
Nevertheless, surgical abortion rates have fallen. Still, Ken Blackwell with the Washington Times reported today that the most pro-life generation is the Lucky Few Generation, commonly referred to as the Silent Generation because as young people growing up in the 1930s and 40s they were reluctant to participate in political protests and demonstrations. This generation was born between 1925 and 1942 and came of age before abortion was legalized in 1973.
According to Blackwell, Baby Boomers (1943-1960), are more pro-abort than the Lucky Few, but Generation X, (the years are 1961 to 1981) is the most pro-abortion of all. Gen Y, the Millennial Generation born roughly between 1982 and 1995, is equally as pro-life as the Baby Boomers. The difference, however, is that Gen Y can organize at an unprecedented rate because of social media. And, because of the current (2015) Planned Parenthood controversy related to the selling of aborted fetal tissue, the pro-life moment has arrived. The picture to the right is picking up steam on Facebook.
In 2004, I had a miscarriage at about eight weeks. I was crushed by the news. My obstetrician tried to comfort me by telling me I’d merely had a chemical pregnancy.
Oh, how I loved those chemicals…
During the weeks after my miscarriage a Carmelite nun told me that the babies women lose through miscarriage are just not ready for this world yet. “God carries them up to heaven,” she said. “When the time is right your baby will be returned to you.”
I would not grieve long. Two months later, I was pregnant with my little boy and I rarely looked back. Sullivan arrived giant and happy in 2005.
In 2007, I received another miracle. The Super Bridgy burst onto the scene screaming and clamoring for attention just two months before I turned 40. With my three beautiful children, I would rarely succumb to the sadness of my miscarriage
Sometimes, when I’m walking down the street behind my three kids, watching them navigate narrow sidewalks on their bicycles, I remember the baby I lost and I ponder a lot of things in the private chambers of my heart. And, I always wonder if that little baby is thinking of me and missing me and looking down from on high at all the troubles in the world — in my world. I loved her from day one and this love will never be expelled.
The tiny life I carried with me those eight weeks eventually connected me to my son. My Sully. God promises to work all things out for our good, and this is what He did for me. At 10, when Sullivan holds his palms to my head and kisses my forehead, I know all the disappointments I experienced prior to the day he was born, including a failed marriage in my early 30s, were mere stones that paved the path to his redeeming love. I could walk this way 10,000 times.
I can’t reach across the terrific chasm, this respite that separates the realm of life from the realm of death. I can’t touch those on the side of death without first dying myself. And, when I die, and someday we all will, my soul will be reunited with the soul of the baby I lost. She was more than chemicals, friends. She was knit inside my womb and she bore the image of God. May she had my eyes. It was all there, you know, engraved in the cells I flushed away.
I wanted to plunge my fists into the toilet, cup my hands, and draw out the life that had slipped away. I wanted to say to this baby, I am sorry I was not strong enough to carry you all the way. But, a voice inside my head told me I was stupid to make such a big deal out of this situation. If I cried and if I grieved people would think I was weak. So, I unceremoniously sucked it all up and pushed it all down and the sacred, forming life swirled through the sewers of the city.
It was hellish.
Here are some verses to bring comfort to all:
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation)
Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the Lord. There is hope for your future. (Jeremiah)
For information on healing after abortion, visit Rachel’s Vineyard. For information about supporting women during the joys, challenges and sorrows of the childbearing years, visit Elizabeth Ministry International. For a Catholic perspective on what you can do as a member of the pro-life generation, visit Catholic Vote.
Ann Lassiter says
Gen-X starts in 1965. People born before 1965 are referred to as “Generation Jones” and they are one of the most narcissistic generations to date. There were no vocal abortion supporters in my high school graduating class in 1988, but many vocal abortion opponents.
I am thankful for each and every pro-lifer no matter what their political affiliation may be. Championing lives created in God’s image is a calling for every Christian.
The statistics are interesting. How sad it is–so many children missing from the generations. Thank-you for sharing your story. Both the mothers who have experienced a miscarriage and those who have had an abortion need time to grieve and heal. The Lord God is the great healer. Every life is precious.
Lisa C says
I know the pro-abortion rhetoric is popular but it’s also nonsense. I am pro-life but I’ve never had an abortion (or used the pill or other forms of birth control that you’re also insisting need new terminology now). I have two beautiful children, and one miscarriage before they arrived.
Terminology aside, I think it’s hard to judge either of the topics you mention until the women of both generations are past child-bearing age. Much like parenting, one’s views of birth control decisions (or how many children one hopes to have, etc) change quite a bit with age and experience. If the same percentage of Gen Ys (or Gen Xers, as a lot of us still are in childbearing years even if many of us are “done” having babies) who define themselves as pro-life on surveys go on to also not have abortions, then we’ll have real data. But self-reporting, especially by women who may have just started their childbearing years speaks to nothing more than hopes.
I also find it odd that people want to blame abortion for Gen X’s small size, as if the economic troubles of the ’70s weren’t to blame. When the economy tanks or issues like fuel shortages arise, it’s pretty common for people to delay having more children, most commonly by using birth control rather than getting abortions. There were less children born in 2010, for example, which correlates to the recession taking place at that time. One might also note that many Boomer women were delaying having children as they started careers, and that most Boomer women had smaller families than their parents did. Alternately, one might also note that the Boomer generation is so large because WWII was over and the economy was booming, and lots of people thought it was a great time to start or expand their families. Does anyone really think birth rates were lower during the Depression and before WWII because tons of women were getting illegal abortions (as opposed to, oh, not being particularly fertile because biology doesn’t respond well to starvation and will try to prevent mothers from getting pregnant in those situations)? To assume that birth rates only drop because of abortion is a rather wild and unfounded assumption. I’m glad you debunked it here.
Like you, I also had a miscarriage in the early years of 2004, as we were trying to start our family. That was followed a few months later by the pregnancy that resulted in my older daughter, and while I was thrilled to be pregnant, the pregnancy itself was horrible. I puked for 37 weeks straight (yes, before the positive pregnancy test), and every single day, multiple times a day despite anti-emetics until she was born. Possibly as a result of the ongoing HG, I also ended up with pre-eclampsia that resulted in undiagnosed IUGR, a full-term 4-1/2 lb baby whose heart was stopping in labor, who needed an emergency c-section, and who spent a week in the NICU on oxygen and an IV. I’m extraordinarily grateful for her.
Fast forward 4-1/2 years. I’d been reluctant to have a second child, partly because I knew the odds of having HG again were high and that it could be worse, and that it would mean I’d be significantly incapacitated as a mother. The problem with HG, among other things, is that you can’t keep down food and people who are starving sleep a lot. We plunged ahead nevertheless and yes, the HG was worse. I remember one particularly bad stretch of days that landed me in the ER for rehydration where I would dream of food but couldn’t keep anything down. I ended up at 95 lbs before things stabilized some at the end of first trimester. I think my 4-year-old watched a lot of videos during the next few months, but I honestly don’t remember much beyond not being the parent I wanted to be because of the breakdown in the food = energy equation. Then I tested positive for gestational diabetes which made no sense at all (I’m a long-time runner and have never, ever been overweight or a fast food junkie or anything that would vaguely make me a risk), but ended up dealing with that until child #2 arrived. When the VBAC I’d hoped for with child #2 failed, it was a sign that I really wasn’t meant to have more children and opted for a tubal. My husband and I had already agreed that if we wanted to expand our family, we would adopt.
My 18-year-old self never would have guessed that I’d take that step. My 18-year-old self thought it would be great to have 3 kids and my 18-year-old self figured that once you were married, pregnancies were no big deal at any age so why would anyone take such a permanent step? But my 36-year-old self knew precisely the impact that those pregnancies had had on my health: increased risks for high blood pressure and related diseases from the pre-eclampsia, and a twice as high risk for developing Type II diabetes later in life from the gestational diabetes, not to mention the fact that I’ve apparently lost the ability to stop throwing up when I get a stomach bug, so I to take an anti-emetic every time in order to start recovering. I’ve taken steps that I hope will prevent me from every facing another pregnancy (including a second form of birth control just to be extra cautious), but I certainly see that these are not small issues.
My sister also suffered from pre-eclampsia in her second pregnancy. In her case, it quickly turned into HELLP syndrome at 30 weeks, when she began bleeding onto her kitchen floor one evening. The paramedics couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat and her blood pressure was something crazy high that I don’t even remember. The ambulance came and rushed her to the hospital where, thankfully, her baby boy was still alive. He was delivered via emergency c-section and then transported to another hospital with an appropriate NICU for babies delivered at 30 weeks gestation. He’s now nearly 3 years old. I know what a miracle he is, and we’re all so thankful. I won’t forget the call from my parents, who had just happened to stop by their house that evening and who were able to keep her older daughter upstairs so she didn’t see the blood pooled on the kitchen floor but who did see the ambulance speed off with sirens and lights carrying her mother. That’s terrifying for any 5-year-old. I ran over to help clean up and settle my niece. We got her asleep and then we sat and hoped and prayed until my brother-in-law called with the update. She meanwhile, remained on some high-power drugs to bring her blood pressure back down, and I remember being shocked when I first saw her in the hospital room. My sister has always been staunchly pro-life, but after that experience, she said she has a much harder time judging others. She’s been told not to have any more children because this time could have been fatal for her or her son, and next time even more so.
My sister and I are statistically rare but certainly not alone. There are other women who also have weighty issues to consider if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. It may be easy–especially for people who haven’t been through this, to think they wouldn’t think twice about leaving their older children without a mother, but these are not at all easy decisions with pretty, Hallmark-movie endings. Yes, some women take that leap and are granted miracles, but others die. I don’t feel I have the right to tell either of those women what their decision should be, especially with existing children in the mix. I certainly don’t think I should be able to tell women who are raped and have the horrible misfortune of becoming pregnant what decision they should make (nor, for that matter, could I ever know what I’d do unless I was actually in that position). That’s why I’m pro-choice. This is also why I resent the term “pro-abortion.” On the contrary, I’ve taken major steps to avoid ever being in a position where it might be an option, and I believe as the ELCA does, that it should be an option of last resort. Name-calling won’t fix anything here. Funding research to better understand these complications might. Pre-eclampsia is certainly extremely misunderstood and contributes to the death of far more very-wanted babies than it should; perhaps if people bothered to fund more research to understand how to better detect and prevent it we could at least prevent the deaths of those unborn children. Unfortunately, those rarely make headlines. I know that I’ve read far too many stories that parallel the last couple of days before my daughter was born, except that theirs ended in heartbreak. That could have been me, but for the grace of God–and yet instead of focusing on solutions people decide to call other people names. That doesn’t save lives.
The complexity of these issues are not things I knew or could know at age 18 or age 25. And we won’t know what generations are truly more or less pro-life or pro-choice until their own childbearing years are past.
john lord says
An interesting article to say the least.It’s not often that one heard about the negative effects of abortion. To hear it from mainstream media, it is as natural and harmless as drinking a glass of water.No matter the locale or the situation, the nihilistic left always leaves a trail of corpses as their greatest accomplishments