The Big Picture Behind Abortion
This piece is part one of a two-part discussion on abortion.
On abortion, a large gap exists between John McCain and Barack Obama. The National Right to Life Committee as well as Pro-choice America agree that Obama has a perfect 100 percent pro-choice voting record. McCain is pro-life, and the two groups respectively claim that he votes that way at least 75 percent of the time. It should make for a lively debate this fall.
But the question of abortion usually centers only on the morality of the act (choice versus life), and McCain and Obama so far look to frame the question no differently. Morality surely is important, but its emphasis misses out on the much wider impact that these laws have.
Doctors in some surprising states, such as Kansas, had very liberal interpretations of what constituted danger to health; nevertheless, Roe did substantially increase abortions, more than doubling the rate per live birth in the five years from 1972 to 1977.
But many other changes occurred at the same time:
• A sharp increase in pre-marital sex.
• A sharp rise in out-of-wedlock births
• A drop in the number of children placed for adoption.
• A decline in marriages
that occur after the woman is pregnant.
Many of these changes might seem contradictory. Why would both the number of abortions and out-of-wedlock births go up? If there were more illegitimate births, why were fewer children available for adoption?