Every now and then I get a golden opportunity to address a group of decision-makers whose minds are not entirely made up on the issues of life and who may be influenced to create legislation in favor of life. On a missionary trip to Romania this week I had such a chance to offer a short intervention at the Subcommittee on Human Dignity which the Romanian House of Deputies recently established for the study of human rights issues. The text of this intervention follows. Pray for many more opportunities for HLI to deliver the message of life to those in authority, both here in the USA and around the world. And please, take every opportunity that comes your way to proclaim this message-lives are depending on it!
Mr. Dugulescu [Committee Chairman], Esteemed Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet you in the Name of Jesus Christ!
I am honored to be with you today for a few short minutes to speak of the future of our world and of our respective nations. I am an American and a Catholic priest, and I dedicate myself to missionary work to help people see the problems that our world will soon have to face with the terrible effects of legalized abortion.
For those who have concern about the affairs of nations and peoples as you do, there should be a sense of alarm about the drastic state of fertility reduction in Europe. In order to replace a nation’s population, which naturally shrinks through death and emigration, it is necessary for there to be a minimum fertility rate of 2.1 children per completed family. There is no country in Europe that has such a fertility rate now. Not one! In fact, in some places the fertility rate has been so low for so long that now the population is actually shrinking in absolute numbers. It is no secret that the Russian population gets reduced by close to a million people every year and has been shrinking at that rate for a decade or more. President Putin has called that demographic decline a “national crisis” and the Russians have established many incentives to childbearing among their people which have had little or no effect on the overall fertility rate of the country. The reason is that the downward momentum of population reduction is so strong and the people’s childbearing practices are already firmly established.
As members of Parliament I am sure that you are also concerned about a similar situation of low fertility in Romania. Regretfully the 2009 fertility rate for Romania is down at 1.39 children per family and the population growth rate is now a negative 0.14. There are more deaths than births in Romania (10.53 vs. 11.88 per 1,000) and your country has a net negative emigration rate (-0.13). If these figures were just an exception to the rule we could pass them off as nothing to worry about. Taken together, however, these figures are part of two alarming trends. As a European nation, Romania fits the trend of downward spiraling fertility and population decline that is typical of all European countries. The other trend is the internal decline in fertility and population in Romania over the past two decades:
The National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics (NIRDI), for example, indicates that the Romanian population in 2002 was 21.7 million having declined from 22.7 million just one decade before that, representing a frightening drop of nearly 5% (4.95%). In fact, the Ministry of Education is already worried about the effect of fewer young people on the educational system. The problem of population decline has already arrived in Romania and the solution is not more immigration or more years working. The solution is in increasing your nation’s human resources — children — the very lifeblood of a nation. This will be difficult to recuperate unless measures are taken to increase fertility.
I would like to ask you, as the Legislative authority of your nation, to set an example to the rest of the world and address this drastic problem at its very root while there is still time. The main reason for the steep demographic decline is the problem of legalized abortion and the massive promotion of contraception. I am fully aware that abortion was prohibited in Communist times and that to prohibit it again would perhaps have negative connotations, but the Romanian people can be educated to see that abortion is not a matter of politics but a matter of justice for the most innocent of your citizens and a matter of public health. Its prohibition can be seen as a concern of national survival in a very real sense. At that time they can be educated about the significant health costs and risks [see sidebar] associated with it and shown that nowhere in the world have abortion and contraception had a positive long-term effect on any society.
I would also like to praise highly the initiative of certain members of Parliament who are forming the Subcommittee on Human Dignity. Human rights and dignity concerns are at the core of the message I bring. I fully encourage this initiative and hope that all will join in the work of defending the dignity of human life and the family in Romania.
I am very grateful for the time you have given me for this message, and I ask God’s blessing upon you and your beautiful people.