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Quantifying the Roe Effect

James Taranto

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Pro-lifers can pass their values on to their children; those who abort their children can't.

Friday, March 5, 2004 3:02 p.m. EST

Regular readers of this column know that for some time we have been pushing a pet theory about the political effect of abortion. We refer not to the issue of abortion but to the practice, and our theory is that abortion is making America more conservative than it otherwise would be.

We base this on two assumptions. First, that liberal and Democratic women are more likely to have abortions. Second, that children's political views tend to reflect those of their parents--not exactly, of course, and not in every case, but on average. Thus abortion depletes the next generation of liberals and eventually makes the population more conservative. We call this the Roe effect, after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

Some critics have objected that this is pure conjecture, but a new study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group named for a onetime Planned Parenthood head, contains data that bolster the first assumption. We briefly noted the study yesterday, and now we've taken a look at the Guttmacher data for all 50 states. They show that there is indeed a statistical correlation between how a state voted in 2000 and its teen abortion statistics for each year.

Guttmacher actually produced two sets of abortion statistics: the abortion rate, or the number of abortions among girls and women age 15-19 for each 1,000 women of that age range, and the abortion ratio, the number of abortions in that age range divided by the number of pregnancies that ended in either live birth or abortion. In brief, the rate is the likelihood that any young woman will get pregnant and have an abortion, while the ratio is the likelihood that a pregnant young woman will have an abortion rather than carry her child to term

Read the entire article on the Wall Street Opinion Journal website.

Posted: 8/19/04



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