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Using the climate change scare to promote abortion

By Tom Harris
web posted March 27, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak to Campaign Life Coalition Ottawa about climate change and the potential threat that climate alarmism poses to the objectives of pro-lifers. The title of the event is “Why global warming alarmism is a threat to unborn children… and the pro-life movement.”

In preparation for the event, I researched whether climate activist groups had anything to say about abortion and were surprised to see they do indeed. While their position is usually cloaked in supposed respect for woman’s rights, many of these groups strongly support abortion, and it is clear that their drive for de-population is a major reason for it. For example, in his Feb 6, 2017 interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Michael Brune, then Sierra Club Executive Director, was asked:

“Last year on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, you all issued a press release saying that the Sierra Club stands in solidarity with [the pro-abortion] Planned Parenthood…Why does legal abortion make the environment better?”

Brune answered with the usual justification about believing in empowering women, etc.

So Carlson asked again:

“What does that do with the environment? Like how specifically does more abortion or legal abortion help the environment?”

Brune finally admitted:

“Well, it helps to address the number of people that we have on this planet. We feel that one of the ways in which we can get to a sustainable population is to empower women to make choices about their own families.”


They want abortion because they want fewer people on Earth to supposedly protect the environment, specifically to “stop climate change,” a wholly impossible objective, of course. Brune next boasted about how the Sierra Club “is working hard to transition off of fossil fuels to move towards ‘clean energy.’” Yes, that too, would reduce Earth’s population since moving off these reliable fuels at any time in the foreseeable future would result in poverty, famine, and wars, killing billions.

This seems to have been going on for a long time. In the 1998 news release, “Sierra Club Spends Millions on Pro-abortion Propaganda,” Life Site reported that Sierra was paying for political ads on TV and radio, promoting, among other things, “abortion rights.”

And they apparently still support this objective. For example, in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court last year, Sierra published “Why Environmental Justice Is Part of Reproductive Justice | Sierra Club,” a convoluted article that attributed the court’s decision to relegate abortion law to the states to “ecofascism.”

Other enviro groups have been saying similar things for years, presumably for the same reason:

  • An open letter in support of Planned Parenthood, sent on March 22, 2017, to leading federal elected officials, was signed by:
    • Alaska Wilderness League
    • Green For All
    • Green Latinos
    • League of Conservation Voters
    • Natural Resources Defense Council
    • Oil Change International
    • Safe Climate Campaign
    • Sierra Club
    • The Climate Reality Project
  • World Wildlife Federation (WWF) published “Healthy People, Healthy Ecosystems, A Manual on Integrating Health and Family Planning into Conservation Projects,” in which they stated:

“Reproductive health programs include such activities as…reducing the practice of unsafe abortion, providing post-abortion care…”

  • Center for Biological Diversity opposed Republican plans to defund Planned Parenthood’s reproductive health services and pass a 6-week abortion ban. Their online article, TACKLING THE POPULATION PROBLEM stated bluntly:

Human population growth is at the root of our most pressing environmental issues…”

  • World Watch Institute has decried, “The legal absurdity of decreasing access to safe abortion in developing countries puts the US administration in clear violation of the 1994 Cairo Program of Action.” In World Watch Magazine, March/April 2007, Volume 20, No. 2, by Richard Hayes was stated:

“There’s no reason we can’t draw lines that protect abortion rights and medical research while prohibiting applications of genetic science that open the door to profoundly undesirable outcomes.”

Some media agree. In “Is Having A Baby In 2021 Pure Environmental Vandalism?” Vogue Magazine writer Nell Frizzell worried

“feverishly about the strain on the earth’s resources that another Western child would add. The food he [the child she was originally considering having] ate, the nappies he wore, the electricity he would use; before he’d even started sitting up, my child would have already contributed far more to climate change than his counterpart in, say, Kerala or South Sudan.”

University of Ottawa Gwartney Professor of Economic Education and Research Dr. Peter Jacobson demonstrated in an article that pro-life advocates should study that her fears are generally misguided.

Or how about “Kids are cute, but they’re not really eco-friendly,” a 2017 Times Trends article being shared on the Web (and refuted inDoes the value of children depend on their usefulness? – Children are a gift, not a liability”).

It is not just that environmental groups are supporting abortion to supposedly help achieve their climate goals. Pro-abortion organizations are using the climate scare to promote their agenda as well. The Virginia-based Population Research Institute sums up the latter situation well in their important video, “Climate Change is an Excuse for Abortion.” Here are some excerpts (see here for the complete video):

“Climate crisis advocates blame human activity as the leading cause for climate change. So why not push for global access to abortion and contraception under the guise of climate activism to address the source of all climate change – humanity?

“This is precisely what the abortion industry has attempted to do. … Groups in the abortion industry have slowly been distancing themselves from the eugenics and population control movement, and re-branding themselves in a different type of campaign that promotes woman’s ‘rights.’

“With this rebranding, they fall under a broader movement that provides them more flexibility and sway to push their ultimate goal—international abortion laws under the guise of woman’s rights and women’s health. This new rights category has made it possible for abortion advocates to use woman’s autonomy as a guise in order to rebrand the movement as a champion of a movement now at the forefront of agendas across the world: Climate Change.

“…They [sexual and reproductive health and rights groups] claim that an inevitable and necessary step to combat climate change is with family planning…The international Planned Parenthood Federation insists that contraception and abortion are basic human rights that women, especially in impoverished countries, lack. Clearly, the abortion lobbies association with the climate crisis has not changed its population control agenda. Rather, it has empowered them to make their population control agenda more relevant by means of embedding fear through climate crisis theory and claiming their movement as the solution.”

And, of course, some academics have been promoting de-population for decades. Dr. Paul Ehrlich, formerly a butterfly biologist at Stanford University, successfully scared the world with his 1968 book The Population Bomb. In it, he attempted to convince readers that the English economist, Thomas Malthus, was right in predicting the end of the world back in 1798. As a result of his highly inaccurate publication, Ehrlich was awarded a MacArthur Genius Award. This gave him prominent platforms from which to give annual predictions of doom and gloom, 100% of which proved false. Now 90, Ehrlich maintains he has been right all along, just off in the timing.

More recently, in “The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions,” published in 2017 in Environmental Research Letters, Seth Wynes, and Kimberly A Nicholas lamented the fact that high school textbooks and government documents did not focus on high impact actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, they explained that having one fewer child would, on average, save 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) in emissions per year for developed countries (see graph below from their video presentation):

Emissions savings

And then, of course, there is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, who are trying to convince us to not have any children at all. They maintain:

“Phasing out the human species by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health.”

Besides being a dangerous and depressing worldview that encourages suicide, abortion, euthanasia, and sterilization, all of this is wrong, of course. We are not overpopulated, and as Christians would remind us, the Bible says:

“Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).

Even Dr. Carl Sagan, a humanist and a supporter of naturalistic religious beliefs that finds religious meaning in the natural world but did not believe in God, said:

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

And even people who have no religious faith whatsoever can and indeed should view humanity as wonderful. Every baby born is a marvelous gift to the universe with unlimited potential for undreamed-of inventions, philosophies, art, music, science, and philanthropy. Everything from Mozart to our expansion into space shows that we are not merely another part of nature, but, indeed, are the very pinnacle of life on our planet, perhaps in the universe.

Many of the arguments in support of abortion fall flat if it can be shown that the environment, specifically the climate, is not in crisis. In next week’s article, I will show pro-life advocates how to fight back against the unscientific climate scare threatening their movement. Stay tuned. ESR   

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament. This essay was first published by America Out Loud at Using the Climate Change Scare to Promote Abortion - America Out Loud.


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