A fourth of my generation is missing.
For every three people you see my age there is one person who didn’t make it out of the womb alive. They were aborted.
Who would these people be if they had been allowed to simply exist? I can’t stop thinking about it. My generation — Generation X — is the smallest on the face of the Earth today. The Baby Boomers and Millenials are twice our size.
Between 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court required every state to legalize abortion, and 1985, the debated tail end of Generation X, the abortion rate wavered between 20 and 30 percent. The end result is 29 million fewer members of my generation.
In the late 1970s, the abortion rate in Kansas approached 28 percent. Nearly 60 percent of those abortions were performed on women in their 20s. White women had 65 percent of abortions. Back then, about 85 percent of abortions were to single women. My white mother was 24 when I was born. She was married to my father, which greatly increased my odds of surviving gestation.
Statistically, I am lucky to be alive, but 29 million others weren’t so lucky. Who would those missing peers have been?
Pew Research calls Generation Xers a demographic bridge between the predominately white Baby Boomers and the more diverse Millennials. We’re more patriotic than the generation behind us and more socially liberal than our parents, though we’re more likely to be Republicans than those in the generations on either side of us.
Approximately 131,123 of the missing would have been Kansans. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that’s how many Kansas women had abortions between 1973 and 1985. I would have attended school and college with some of them. Some would undoubtedly be my friends and family. They would be between 30 and 42 today and would hopefully be out changing the world.
Others may have chosen darker paths. Two researchers, John J. Donohue and Steven D. Leavitt, theorized in the May 2001 edition of the Quarterly Journal of Economics that high abortion rates in the 1970s correlated to low crime rates in the 1990s. It’s possible.
Some may have become criminals, but that’s not all we’re missing. Some would have become athletes, politicians and actors. We’re missing storytellers and poets and songwriters. One day, humans will cure cancer, but we may have accomplished it much sooner with one of the missing. Undoubtedly, many great scientists, technological geniuses and researchers were never given a chance at life.
Mostly, we’re missing regular people who would have become teachers, police officers, pastors and eventually parents themselves.
The 29 million missing from my own generation would likely have bore a resemblance to those Generation Xers that survived. Paul Taylor, executive vice president for special projects at Pew Research, described Gen X this way: “From everything we know about them, they’re savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into preening or pampering, and they just might not give much of a hoot what others think of them.”
We’re a likable bunch, 29 million short.
Abortion advocates say we must have legalized abortion, available in all places and all trimesters, because those children are unwanted and unloved. And maybe that’s true. Maybe for a time, those children would be unwanted and unloved, but is it unlikely they would remain that way throughout their entire lives. Someone would love them, be it their reluctant parents, adoptive parents, a teacher, a friend or an eventual spouse.
In writing this column, I hoped to find a famous person of my generation born into inconvenient circumstance to illustrate my point. The Google machine didn’t give me much to work with. I suspect expectant, inconvenienced mothers exercised “choice” often. Inconvenient conceptions didn’t make it past the birth canal in the mid 1970s and early 1980s.
The most famous “accident” is President Barack Obama. He was born in 1961 to a teenage mother in Hawaii, where abortion was not legal.
Personally, I know many people who were not born into easy circumstances. Born to teenage parents when abortion was legal, I am so grateful that my friends’ parents chose life. My life would be so much less without their children in it.
I think of the children of some of my friends and acquaintances who had unplanned pregnancies. Many of their kids are adults now. Their children are bright, accomplished college students, studying things like engineering, nursing and law enforcement. And I think of the child I know who survived an attempted abortion. She’s an amazing, spunky kid who makes a difference in the lives of those who know and love her.
Every abortion is a tragedy and not just for the baby, or fetus, who never gets to live. It’s also a great loss for those of us who won’t ever get a chance to know them. There is unlimited potential in every human life, and we’re just throwing away possibilities.
There are 29 million members of my generation missing. They’re not alone. Since 1973, more than 57 million have been aborted. I feel that loss.
A fourth of my generation is missing, and I really wish they were here.