The government has put forward an extension in the Penal Code bill for the legalization of voluntary abortion, which allows us to reflect on the relationship between demographic and economic growth. This has been proposed by means of a fourth hypothesis where the anxiety of the mother (and also therefore the anxiety for economic reasons) appears to justify such a dramatic decision.

The clichés prevalent worldwide for decades, tend towards the simplicity of an interpretation of Malthus according to which foodstuffs would grow in arithmetic progression while the population, in a comfortable economic situation, would grow following a geometric progression.  This pessimistic Malthusian mentality, which reduces all human beings to a mere number which consumes, has been rejected by the stubborn dynamic of the facts. The first is that technological progress, intensive farming of capital, biological and genetic discoveries, development of marine resources, and other successive, continuous and multiple advances in all scientific areas, have made it possible for foodstuffs to grow in an exemplary form. The lack of foodstuffs today is more a problem of the correct functioning of the world economic system than of lack of natural and technical resources. The second is that the population in the most developed societies has not grown in geometric progression but on the contrary; the higher the standard of living, the lower the birth rate.  Other extra-economic factors, of fundamentally ethical and cultural natures, influence birth rates much more decisively.

In fact, the real demographic problem for Europe and especially for Spain, arises from the social-economic consequences of the drastic drop in these rates.  In order to avoid dying out the population can age and change colour to a great extent. However much apprehension immigrants arouse, there will come a day in the not too distant future, when they will be essential.

As opposed to these clichés, the Nobel Prize for Economy, Hayek, categorically affirms, ‘the generalized opinion that demographic growth implies progressive world impoverishment is simply an error.’ In keeping with the rate at which the processes of exchange intensify and means of communication and transport are perfected, the demographic increase can only turn out to be favourable to economic evolution.  The appearance of new expertise is the equivalent to the discovery of new economic resources.  In this way any subsequent advance in material or spiritual aspects of civilisation is developed.

These thoughts, of a general character, are applicable on a family level.  A new human being is not just another mouth to be fed but also arms to be able to work and, above all, a completely original and unrepeatable person with novel capacity of intelligence and creativity. This always compensates on both a family and social level the costs and sacrifices of their physical care and subsequent upbringing. There are many other ways of solving economic problems.  There is no justification in motivating these abortionist behaviours with legislation, from the point of view of the most modern economic logic where the most important development factor is not capital, or technology, or material resources, but the always original and creative reality and capacity of the human factor.  With the present-day generalized economic crisis and anxiety, this fourth hypothesis implies in fact licentious abortion. In the same way that in the economy the current sacrifice makes sense for the expected future profit, the sacrifice that a new human being can bring with it always makes sense for the numerous unknown future profits.

With modern techniques we can catch a glimpse of certain biological characteristics revealed in each stage of the gestation of a baby in the maternal womb, whether it be 1, 3 or 9 weeks old. However, what we cannot know at all is what he or she could become, what he or she could contribute to improve, also economically, in this family and society. To voluntarily interrupt this vital process, and justify such an action with economic reasons, proves to be an intellectual, ethical and economic atrocity, radically impossible to rectify.  The wealth of the future will remain incomplete forever.

JJ Franch Meneu

Diario 16, Monday 1st February 1993