To the existing human suffering in Japan will be added, over time, countless people who will sicken and die prematurely as a result of their exposure to the Fukushima radiation. In addition to cancer, likely negative health effects can include birth defects, spontaneous abortions, brain tumors, diabetes, heart disease, and genetic and teratogenic mutations.About 25 percent of all pregnancies are naturally ended—and that figure could easily be higher, as early terminations are harder to detect and record than late ones. Also, we should not call these terminations "miscarriages"; they are abortions because they almost never happen without a reason. Recall the Bhopal disaster of 1984. According to Independent Media Center in India, "24% of pregnant women exposed to isocyanide Bhopal explosion had spontaneous abortions." These abortions were directly linked to a chemical that polluted the air. Human bodies responded to the chemical in an obvious and recordable way. But our bodies are constantly responding to changes in the environment, and these changes (known and unknown new chemicals, new toxins, and so on) are happening all the time and shaping the human population in ways that are often difficult to understand or foresee.
Some biologists, like Steve Jones (who I admire), argue that human evolution has stopped. The reason for thinking this is a perceived weakening of selection's machine: death. Infant mortality is down, many terrible diseases are curable, it's easy to reach reproductive age—what has death got to work with in societies that have made these significant advances? But selection not only works on what we can see and record but what is invisible and difficult to monitor. Naturally terminated pregnancies present selection with an excellent material do its cold and blind work.
In the way the body aborts a pregnancy because of challenges in the natural or polluted environment, a human aborts a pregnancy because of challenges in the cultural environment. In fact, choice is precisely what makes humans exceptional. All other primates don't have a choice in the matter. Abortion or neonaticide (before abortions became safe for humans, the thing to do was to kill a baby right after birth—our age of science and technology made the latter far less dangerous than the former) is not an option for a chimp or gorilla. Writes the great sociobiologist Sarah Hrdy:
Scrutinizing newborn group members is a primate universal. But consciously deciding whether or not to keep a baby is uniquely human.
Those who attack abortion clinics and the right to choose, are denouncing something that is essentially human. They want us to be more like chimps and gorillas—animals with souls that no church has ever saved.