Michael J. New: Abortion Restrictions Are Reducing Abortion Rates

On NRO, Kyle Blanchette and Robert VerBruggen both made strong arguments that abortion restrictions can reduce abortion rates. I have noted on NRO in the past that pro-life gains in the court of public opinion have forced our ideological opponents to change their strategy. Instead of arguing that pro-lifers are philosophically wrong, supporters of legal abortion often argue that our policies are ineffective. They frequently cite studies claiming to show that pro-life laws are ineffective and suggest that pro-lifers should support more-generous spending on welfare, health care, or contraception as a strategy to reduce abortion rates.

In reality, there is a substantial body of academic research demonstrating that the incidence of abortion is sensitive to its legal status. The best study on this subject was published in the Journal of Law and Economics in 2004, specifically analyzing Eastern-European countries after the fall of Communism. Some countries, such as Romania, liberalized their abortion laws while others, such as Poland, instituted legal protections for the unborn. The study held constant a range of economic and demographic variables and found that modest abortion restrictions reduced abortion rates by 25 percent. Stronger limits had an even larger effect.

That said, the new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study, which purports to show that pro-life parental-involvement laws are having a diminished impact in recent years, is interesting. I have a few thoughts about the findings. First, the overall abortion rate has fallen by 50 percent since 1980, but the abortion rate among minors (ages 15-17) has fallen by more than 80 percent over the same time period. It is reasonable to think that parental-involvement laws might have less of an effect as the incidence of abortion among minors goes down.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael J. New