Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Legal restrictions reduce abortion rates

From a new essay by Dr. Michael New, who has done extensive study of the effects of legislation and politics on abortion rates:
In recent years the pro-life position has made impressive gains in the court of public opinion. Because of this, a number of political liberals have come to the realization that support for legal abortion is a losing issue politically. As such, many have attempted a clever switch in strategy. Instead of trying to defend abortion rights, they have attempted to seize the moral high ground by claiming that 1) pro-life efforts have been ineffective and that 2) their preferred policy goals offer the best hope for reducing abortion rates. Indeed, over the past few years left-leaning groups have argued that a range of policies will reduce the abortion rate. These include more spending on welfare programs, greater access to contraceptives, and universal health care -- in short, everything but providing greater legal protections for unborn children.

This argument occurs once again in a widely circulated essay entitled "How the Religious Right Promotes Abortion" by Northwestern University Law Professor Andrew Koppelman. ... According to Koppelman, the hostility in red states to both [government funding of] contraception and comprehensive sex education leads to a greater incidence of abortion. ...

Unfortunately, Koppelman's claims are based on rhetorical sleights of hand and a faulty analysis of data. ... First, there is little evidence that more federal funding for contraceptives will reduce abortion rates. ... Finally, red states actually have lower abortion rates, in part because they have placed more legal restrictions on abortion.
The effectiveness of pro-life legislation -- taxpayer funded abortion bans, parental notification, informed consent, etc. -- in reducing the number of abortions is well established. Read the entirety of New's analysis.