Evangelist Franklin Graham and other pro-life conservatives are denouncing Chelsea Clinton's claim that abortion has led to economic growth in the U.S.
Clinton's comments were condemned as being like those who defend slavery or the killing of Jews by the Nazis.
"Chelsea Clinton claims that legalizing abortion added trillions of dollars to the economy. What a lie," Graham wrote on Facebook Wednesday. "Hitler probably also claimed that killing the Jews would be good for their economy. Legalizing abortion hasn't added anything to our country, it has only taken away. It has cost this nation more than 60 million lives — lives precious to God.
"Just think of the contribution these people would have made. There will be another high cost. I believe God will judge America for allowing the heinous murder of our own children in the womb," he added before assuring women who've had abortions that God will forgive them and help to alleviate their guilt. "Not only will He forgive you, He will save you for eternity — and you will be reunited one day in Heaven with that child," Graham added.
Speaking at the pro-abortion event "Rise Up for Roe" in New York City on Aug. 11 — which is part of a 10-city tour sponsored by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Demand Justice Initiative to rally against Judge Bret Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court — Clinton said:
Whether you fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access right, because these are not the same thing, if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency — you have to care about this.
It is not a disconnected fact — to address this T-shirt of 1973 — that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three-and-a-half trillion dollars to our economy. Right?
The net, new entrance of women — that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973. So I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue.
In response, the Susan B. Anthony List, a nonprofit that seeks to advance pro-life women in politics, said Clinton "couldn't be more wrong" and tweeted a link to its partner, Life Issues Institute, which noted:
"She should consider the 60 million aborted babies who won't enter the labor force or pay into Social Security. Their parents won't purchase diapers, clothing, toys, cars or houses to accommodate them. ... Yes, abortion's had a huge impact on America's economy and it hasn't been good. Not only are we hurting economically, we're missing 60 million blessings from God and the good they would have contributed," Brad Mattes of the institute said.
Many others, such as the National Right to Life organization, also condemned Clinton for suggesting that the "dismemberment" of 60 million babies is great for Americans' pocketbooks.
Clinton, the daughter for former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in a tweet Tuesday that her words have been misrepresented. In defense of her argument, she highlighted a study published in the American Journal of Public Health by Diana Greene Foster, a professor and researcher at UC San Francisco, who advocates for abortion rights.
The study, which Foster wrote about in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, argues that women who seek and obtain an abortion are better off financially than those who are unable to obtain an abortion in states where late-second or third-trimester abortions are restricted.
"Reproductive rights have always been economic rights," Clinton tweeted. "A recent study found denying women — often already mothers — a wanted abortion results in years of less employment & more family poverty."
The study's conclusion states: "Women denied an abortion were more likely than were women who received an abortion to experience economic hardship and insecurity lasting years. Laws that restrict access to abortion may result in worsened economic outcomes for women."
Researchers did not interview women who originally sought an abortion but subsequently decided they wanted to carry their babies to term to find out their socioeconomic status in the years that followed.
Foster notes in her op-ed that for pro-lifers, "... science that shows the economic harms to women who are denied access to abortion is heartless, overlooking the obvious loss of life to put a crude monetary value on the natural sacrifices of motherhood."
Among its list of 10 reasons why women should decide against abortion, the pro-life group Live Action says women shouldn't be made to feel as though they're incapable of caring for a baby while continuing to work or finishing their degree. Similarly, it adds that some pro-life pregnancy centers help women who are struggling financially to get out of debt and achieve their education and career goals.
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson also engaged Clinton on Twitter and compared her comments to the Confederacy's defense of salvery.
"In the 1800's [sic], slave owners said slavery was about economic rights," Erickson said. "Always and without fail the arguments of the abortion movement in the United States mirror the arguments of slave owners. Both are grave evils."
Clinton responded to Erickson by saying her comments were "not the same at all."
"Hi Erick — protecting reproductive health rights is first about protecting women's human rights and health," she tweeted on Wednesday. "From 1973-1985, American women's deaths from abortion declined 5-fold. And, reproductive rights are about women's economic rights and agency. It's ... not the same at all."
Over 340 women have died from legal abortions in the U.S., according to Life Dynamics, a Texas-based pro-life group that tracks reported deaths of women following an abortion.