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Beyond Roe? New study shows abortion rates lowered by public policy

In a new study that could recast the seemingly endless debates over abortion and Roe v. Wade, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good yesterday released a new study that, according to the news release, is the first study of its kind to look at the “long- and short-term effects of public policy on the abortion rate over a twenty-year period.

“The findings,” it says, “reveal that social and economic supports for women and families dramatically reduce the number of abortions. As Democrats gather in Denver for their national convention, and as Republicans prepare to gather next week, the study offers compelling findings that pro-life and pro-choice leaders from both political parties can unite behind to reduce abortions.”


Indeed, such findings would (I would think) provide ammunition for those looking to move beyond the stalemate–and sterile debate–over Roe v. Wade–but it would be a major challenge to the GOP to match their pro-life rhetoric with deeds.

Catholics in Alliance commissioned the study, which was conducted by Joseph Wright, a political science professor at Penn State University and a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame, and Michael Bailey, a professor of American government at Georgetown University. You can read it here (in a 19-page PDF file). Tom Roberts at NCR also has coverage.

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posted August 28, 2008 at 10:25 am

Pro-Good Life! Hopefully Obama talks about this in the campaign and shows how post-Bill Clinton policies help women without creating a long term reliance on social programs.

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posted August 28, 2008 at 10:29 am

Since adopting my son almost fourteen years ago, and another son three years later, I haven’t been so “sure” about how I feel about abortion. I don’t trust those who are “sure” about either side of the abortion debate, as I feel only God knows the answer. But given that there are so many waiting couples who would love to provide a home for unwanted children, I have wondered what can be done to make placing a child the “option of choice” in cases of unwanted pregnancies where parenting is unrealistic or impossible.
From a strictly secular standpoint, the shame of carrying an unwanted child to term is MUCH LESS than it was when I was born 50 years ago….so perhaps this dream of mine is possible. When I was younger, I couldn’t imagine that I or one of my friends could have carried an unwanted child to term, primarily because the “holier than thou” contingent would have (in my mind) seen to it that our lives were ruined. But the world has changed for the better in my view and even thou Dan Quail wanted to say “shame on you” to Murphy Brown, there were those of us who saw that story line as POSITIVE in that an unexpected pregnancy resulted in the birth of a child….SHAME ON DAN QUAIL!!!
I would like to see more public service commercials showing adoptive families…….birth mothers…..grown adopted children….showing the positive side of adoption.

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posted August 28, 2008 at 1:44 pm

An excellent report! This is something we definitely need to be challenging both parties with. The very programs that are most often cut are the ones with the greatest direct impact on the number of abortions.
It would seem that the Democrats understand this, and have for some time. The question is will Republicans acknowledge it, or will they continue their failed approach.

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posted August 28, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Catholic in Alliance, if they are truly Catholics, should know that the goal is not reducing abortion but ending it.

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posted August 28, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Realistically, you can’t end abortion. There will always be abortions. Sometimes women have to abort because otherwise they will die. Unfortunately, girls and women will be victims of rape or incest. Even if you made abortion illegal, rich women would travel abroad to get abortions and poor women would get dangerous, back alley abortions. That is why abortion reduction is more realistic. Both pro-life and pro-choice people can get behind abortion reduction.

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posted August 29, 2008 at 12:22 am

Allison: You can end at least 99% of all legal abortions by outlawing it entirely except rape, incest, or for the life of the mother. Even Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute admits that fewer than 1 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are for those reasons. That would be an abortion reduction policy that doesn’t attempt to blow smoke about the intentions of its authors.

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posted August 30, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Here is an article from the NY Times that making abortion illegal does nothing to stop it:

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posted August 31, 2008 at 2:00 am

Abortions go back to ancient Greeks. Making abortion illegal will not end abortions. It would mean back-ally abortions for the poor, while people with money would receive safe illegal abortions from doctors
Dr. Chuck Baldwin 8/22/08
Once again, “pro-life” Christians are doing back flips to try and justify their compromise of the life issue by trying to convince everyone (including themselves) that McCain is truly pro-life. However, these same people know in their hearts that McCain shares no fidelity to the life issue in any significant or meaningful way. Like many in the Republican Party, McCain’s commitment to life is about as deep as a mud puddle
the “pro-life” GOP controlled the entire federal government from 2000 to 2006 and nothing was done to overturn Roe v. Wade or end legal abortion-on-demand? When Bush took the oath of office in January of 2001, over one million innocent unborn babies were being murdered in the wombs of their mothers every year via legal abortions in this country. When Bush leaves office in January of 2009, over one million innocent unborn babies would still be murdered in the wombs of their mothers every year via legal abortions in this country
Had McCain & his fellow Republicans truly wanted to end legal abortion, they could have passed Congressman Ron Paul’s Sanctity of Life Act.
How can McCain, & his fellow Republicans in D.C., look pro-life Christians and conservatives in the eye in 2008 and expect that we take them seriously when they say that they are “pro-life”?
The reason they did not do it is because they did not want to do it. They merely want to use “pro-life” rhetoric as a campaign tool to dupe gullible Christian voters every election year. The disgusting thing about it is–it works
Repairing the Damage, Before Roe
Waldo L. Fielding, M.D.
“Almost any implement you can imagine had been and was used to start an abortion —darning needles, crochet hooks, cut-glass salt shakers, soda bottles, sometimes intact, sometimes with the top broken off. ”
Yet as soon as we examined her, we realized that what we thought was the cord was in fact part of her intestine, which had been hooked and torn by whatever implement had been used in the abortion. It took six hours of surgery to remove the infected uterus and ovaries and repair the part of the bowel that was still functional.”
As California’s governor, Ronald Reagan signed permissive abortion legislation that leads to many abortions. As a presidential candidate, he pledged to seek an anti-abortion constitutional amendment, but never fought hard for one.
George W. Bush flip-flopped on abortion when he ran for President. With a Republican controlled Congress until 2006, Bush did not take any actions to outlawed abortion.

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posted August 31, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Interesting article. While I think that it would be nice if abortion was illegal, I think that sometimes we miss the point. I have found that most abortions occur because women are scared, ashamed, abandoned or fear they will be abandoned by the man or their parents. Abortion needs to be prevented on several fronts. First, Bible teachings concerning premarital sex need to be taught and modeled. Next, while out of wedlock pregnantcy is not right, women need to be assured that they will be supported by the christian community when they have their child. Finally, government needs to put into place policies that will help Women to get their lives back together after they have their child. Even though abortion may be legal, if we can prevent it from happening through compassionate means then we will have been successful. That’s the point. Isn’t it?

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posted June 26, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it from happening – in impoverished countries! In America, banning abortion could significantly reduce its incidence.
The number of women who die from “back-alley abortions” is less than the number of people who die every year from high-speed police chases, at least in the USA.

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