Thursday, March 23, 2006

Abortion Distortion

I'm hesitant to weigh in on the abortion issue because it's so divisive and overemphasized, but I ran across some statistics that inform my view on how to reduce the number of abortions.

I'd heard anecdotal evidence that the number of abortions had gone down significantly in the 1990s. The CDC measures the "rate" of abortions in terms of number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years (see chart). During Reagan/Bush1, the rate of abortions went from 25 women per 1,000 to 23 women per 1,000. Keep in mind that this is 12 years with a pro-life President in office. Under Clinton, the rate of abortion went from 23 women per 1,000 to 16 women per 1,000. This during an 8-year administration with a pro-choice President at the helm.

What does all this suggest? Well for one, I think it suggests that whether we have a pro-choice President or a pro-life President is rather insignificant. Instead, the economic climate and its effect on poor women and mothers is the critical factor.

I believe the most effective strategy to reducing the number of abortions is to advocate for policies that lift women out of poverty. If a poor woman has the economic wherewithall to support a child, she is MUCH more likely to choose to keep her baby. That's the dynamic behind the CDC numbers. Assuming that Roe v. Wade will never be overturned, this is a strategy that can unite rather than divide.


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