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Replacement theory has antiabortion roots
Belief that left seeking to supplant white Christians with other groups has long history
(A cover of an anti-abortion book that circulated in the 1980s in which the white supremacist author circulated the view of white genocide, which was the precursor to today’s white replacement theory)
Replacement theory has been making headlines recently as a far-right conspiracy spread by white supremacists who feel there is a plot to displace them in America. While it may seem new to some, this has historically been part of the most intolerant part of the antiabortion movement.
With this theory, its proponents argue that immigrant masses that reproduce at a more frequent rate will disempower people who don’t procreate as much—which they believe are white Christians.
This actually has its roots in the “race suicide” views of the early 20th century that were supported by many prominent people, including President Teddy Roosevelt, who disapproved of birth control because he felt upper class Protestants wouldn’t reproduce at the same clip as poorer and lower-status classes. Early feminism often dealt with empowering women in a world in which they were expected to preserve the racial hierarchy. In a troubling extension off some of this, many who wanted the white women to reproduce with great frequency argued for sterilization of women of color or those from immigrant groups.
This fear existed for the remainder of the century and at various points was popularized by different individuals largely to benefit themselves. I had wondered whether it was worth discussing some of this history here because I didn’t want to intentionally circulate something that had been largely unmentioned. But with its spread, and the potential for more dangerous theories, I think its time to educate people about these “fringe” beliefs that prevail among large numbers of antiabortion activists.
The most obvious example that comes to mind is Canadian author Malcolm Ross’ book, The Real Holocaust: The Attack on Unborn Children and Life Itself. Ross depicts on the cover a Semitic looking figure digging a grave for fetal remains outside an abortion clinic. According to Ross, abortion was an attack on Christianity. He wrote that Jewish doctors were terminating pregnancies to replace white Christians with groups they could control.
Other authors have explored this aspect of the abortion debate to a far greater extent than me. Check out Frederick Clarkson or Carol Mason for their work on the intersection between white supremacy and antiabortionism.
These theories and the names of violent perpetrators may be hidden from the public to deter people from committing atrocities to attain fame. But what many may not realize is that mystery is and always has been more intriguing and ultimately desirable than widespread notoriety. As these theories get driven underground and go unmentioned in polite society, there could be a greater temptation to go down the rabbit hole. If COVID-19 disinformation is a precedent, then most of us should be worried about what could come to our doorstep in the future. We should be proactive in our outreach and education and communicate with people long before they become as paranoid about abortion care as they were about something less controversial like a vaccine.