“Every child a wanted child.”
As Planned Parenthood celebrates a century of eugenics and abortion, this popular slogan sums up the vision of the most idealistic abortion advocates. If women are spared the burden of “unwanted” children, the argument goes, they will be free to pursue education and economic opportunities and welcome “wanted” children only when they are stable enough to support them. “Unwanted” children grow up in loveless, broken homes and become a menace to society. “Wanted” children have the resources to enjoy tennis lessons and SAT prep. Or so the thinking goes.
Such fanciful theories seem to find scientific support from such studies as the analysis of the precipitous drop in the crime rate in the 1990s popularized in Freakonomics. Authors Steven Levitt and John Donohue theorized that the drop in the alarming crime rate seen in the 1990s could be attributed in part to the legalization of abortion in 1973. In other words, the “unwanted” children were never born. Just when you think this statistical argument of dubious certitude has breathed its last, Orange is the New Black resurrects it and you’re confronted by the same tired argument from an abortion supporter.
Even a lay person can understand some of the criticisms and oversights of the study. Levitt has attempted to refute these criticisms at length many times. The discussions can seem to devolve into data battles, which can be hard to enter into without a PhD in statistics. Who can you believe?
There are tenuous and complex assumptions in Levitt’s argument, most notably that legalized abortion led to fewer mothers having children who would have been at greater risk for becoming criminals, which in turn led to a fantastic decline in crime 18-25 years after the widespread legalization of abortion, the time at which the aborted children would have begun their criminal careers. Furthermore, it seems problematic to compare the atrocities of Communist Romania in the 1960s with the legalization of abortion in the United States (which involves so many oversimplifications about human nature and abortion as to be entirely unhelpful). These issues have been noted by many.
There is, however, one assumption that is so great that it is almost universally overlooked. The assumption to which I refer is about the nature of abortion itself. Its legal status puts to rest questions of right and wrong for many people. If the Supreme Court declared a “constitutional right” to abortion, they say, then abortion is unquestionably not a crime.
But is this really true? Watching this video of “war-torn” abortion victims reveals an act of horrific violence. The surgical tools of the abortionist are not tools of careful precision, but instruments of death. Where does a living unborn child belong if not in his mother’s womb?
Leaving aside all considerations of crime statistics, what is fundamentally wrong with the logic of Levitt and others who insist that abortion lowers the rate of violent crime? Abortion itself is a great violence that just happens to be within the legal limits of our society. To claim then that this act of horrific violence theoretically prevents future crimes (an inconclusive claim at best), is to replace theoretical future victims of injustice with very real, non-theoretical unborn children. To kill such children is arguably the greatest injustice of all.
On the anniversary of Planned Parenthood, ask yourself: What does it really mean to say “every child a wanted child”? We can certainly do more to help women in difficult circumstances, but killing their “unwanted” babies is not progress.
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