Lorraine Hansberry

A hidden cause of Baltimore's population loss: abortion

Population increase is a natural sign of political health. By that measure, Baltimore has been sick a long time. Six straight decades of depopulation have reduced the city by a third. Seeking not only to halt this bad case of "the dreaded shrinks" but reverse it, the mayor has set the modest goal of increasing the city's population by 22,000 people in 10 years.

The "experts" assert that immigration is the key to a population rebound. Today's demographers might do well to consult the granddaddy of demographic prognostication: the 18th century French political philosopher Montesquieu. In his Persian Letters, Montesquieu reflects on the fate of the great cities of...