Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Does abortion produce fewer out-of-wedlock births, less child abuse, and lower crime rates?

Here’s an article that commenter Scott sent me from the Public Discourse.

Topic snippet:

In the 1960s and 1970s, abortion advocates used a variety of arguments to advance their cause. Some emphasized women’s liberty and autonomy. Others tried to persuade people that easy access to abortion would benefit society as a whole. Consider just two representative quotations:

“A policy that makes contraception and abortion freely available will greatly reduce the number of unwanted children, and thereby curb the tragic rise of child abuse in our country.” (NARAL, 1978)

“The impact of the abortion revolution may be too vast to assess immediately. It should usher in an era when every child will be wanted, loved, and properly cared for.” (NARAL co-founder Larry Lader, 1974)

Legal abortion, advocates argued, would result in fewer out-of-wedlock births and less child abuse, and would ensure that every child was wanted. Over time, these arguments lost credibility because neither out-of-wedlock births nor child abuse was decreasing.

In the early 2000s, academics Steven Levitt (University of Chicago) and John Donohue (Yale University) published a study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, titled “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,” claiming that legal abortion unexpectedly lowered crime rates in many American cities during the 1990s. Groups supporting abortion rights generally distanced themselves from this argument, fearing its eugenic implications. Though the findings have received some widespread credibility because of Levitt’s popular book Freakonomics, they have been much criticized by other academics.

In this essay I show that easy access to abortion during the past forty years has not benefited society as a whole. Legal abortion has not reduced out-of-wedlock births, child abuse, or crime rates.

And here’s a sample: (I chose one that I haven’t posted about before)

Abortion advocates frequently argued that legal abortion would decrease child abuse. Children who were wanted, they claimed, would be less likely to suffer from abuse than those who were unwanted. But social science data suggest that this logic is flawed. A landmark study of 674 abused children by Edward Lenoski (University of Southern California) found that 91 percent of the parents admitted that they wanted the child they had abused.  A 2005 study by Priscilla Coleman (Bowling Green University) showed that women who obtained abortions were 144 percent more likely to abuse their own children.

At a more theoretical level, Dr. Philip G. Ney, head of the Department of Psychiatry at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Canada, has outlined why abortion can lead directly to child abuse.

  1. Abortion decreases an individual’s instinctual restraint against the occasional rage felt toward those dependent on his or her care.
  2. Permissive abortion diminishes the taboo against aggressing [against] the defenseless.
  3. Abortion increases the hostility between the generations.
  4. Abortion has devalued children, thus diminishing the value of caring for children.
  5. Abortion increases guilt and self-hatred, which the parent takes out on the child.
  6. Abortion increases hostile frustration, intensifying the battle of the sexes, for which children are scapegoated.
  7. Abortion cuts the developing mother-infant bond, thereby diminishing her future mothering capability.

Overall, American statistics paint a clear picture. Legal abortion did not reduce child abuse. In fact, the exact opposite happened. The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect has reported that child abuse has increased more than 1,000 percent since the legalization of abortion in 1973. According to data from the US Statistical Abstract, deaths due to child abuse continued to rise after the Roe v. Wade decision and increased by 400 percent between 1972 and 1990. Obviously, child abuse is caused by a variety of complicated factors. Still, our experience in the United States provides no evidence that legal abortion reduces child abuse.

This is a good one to bookmark, I’ll bet you will be able to use it in a debate. By the way, if you want more of a rebuttal of Freaknomics, you can check out John Lott’s book “Freedomnomics“. It has a whole section on abortion and crime.

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