Amidst all the furor about planned parenthood and abortion rights, the NY Times published a thinkpiece by Ross Douthat called “There Is No Pro Life Case For Planned Parenthood.”
Tucked between hyperbole and melodrama, the thesis was this: liberals who are squeamish about abortion but nevertheless find value in the other services that Planned Parenthood offers must lobby against abortion services in order to preserve the other, less-icky services. Douthat urged readers to “tell the allegedly ‘pro-life’ institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding” and then closed, “but don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.”
Dramatic, yes, but basically logically sound—if family planning is moral and commendable, but abortion might not be, then you’re morally obligated to condemn abortion in order to justly support family planning.
But once we renounce women’s rights to abortion, are we prepared to embrace and financially support every single secondary industry that becomes a necessary resource when single, young, impoverished, unhealthy, drug-addicted, abused, raped, or uneducated women keep unwanted babies?
Universal Health Care
Healthy women are more likely to give birth to live, healthy babies, and to stay alive while doing so, but American women are more likely to die in childbirth than women in China or Saudi Arabia. That rate has more than doubled in the last few decades all while developing countries simultaneously lower their own rates of maternal mortality, which would make us the only developing country that is moving backwards in that area.
The increase may be a result of better accounting rather than an actual upswing, but the true number is troubling either way—it places the United States 60th in maternal mortality globally, with three times as many childbirth deaths as the UK, or about the same as Thailand, Azerbaijan, and Sri Lanka.
Most of these deaths are preventable with proper health care, prenatal or otherwise. Women with preexisting conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are more likely to go into cardiac arrest at childbirth. Proper prenatal care helps ensure healthy births, but without healthcare can it cost as much as $20,000, forcing poor mothers to skip necessary health checkpoints, which can be deadly in or before the delivery room.
Obamacare has ensured an estimated 48.5 million uninsured women, provides coverage to women with preexisting health conditions, and has done away with copays for prenatal visits, making it easier for poor and sick women to deliver healthy babies and survive. If women have no choice but to bring all babies to term, then universal health care has to come with the package in order to actually protect the lives of mother and child.
Welfare and Social Services
A new study has shown that women who are denied abortions are more likely to be unemployed, on welfare, and in abusive relationships than their counterparts who successfully aborted pregnancies. 76% of all women interviewed who had to carry an unwanted baby to term ended up on welfare within two years, as opposed to only 44% of women who did have abortions. When interviewed, only 3% of the women who aborted were in abusive relationships, compared to 7% of those who were turned away.
Financial insecurity was the primary reason that women sought abortions, which offers an explanation as to why women forced to bear unwanted children are more likely to stay inabusive relationships. Aside from the psychological and physical danger this inflicts on mothers, children who are born into abusive relationships are far likely to suffer from emotional and psychological issues, and there is a substantial statistic overlap between domestic violence and child abuse or maltreatment.
In other words, women who cannot get abortions rely on government assistance and social service programs and therefore tax dollars. When scoring a 2013 bill to ban 20-week pregnancy terminations, the Congressional Budget Office determined that the additional births could cost Medicaid between $75 and $400 million over the next ten years while increasing the deficit by $225 million from 2014 to 2023, since 40% of all births are paid for by Medicaid. To restrict abortion is to require the expansion of welfare, WIC, SNAP, section 8, and other “entitlements”.
Crime And Punishment
Freakonomics did a phenomenal piece about the “Donohue-Levitt Hypothesis” which theorizes that legalizing abortion in 1973 after Roe v. Wade was responsible for as much as 50% of the crime drop in the 1990s.
Using homicide, violent crime, and property crime data across the nation, Donohue and Levitt observed that sinking crime rates corresponded to the frequency of abortions in all states, dropping earlier in the five states that legalized earlier in 1970. By 1980, 1.6 million abortions were performed annually, or almost one for every two live births. Crime began dropping approximately 20 years after Roe v. Wade, when unwanted pregnancies carried to term would have otherwise been growing into adolescents and young adults, who commit crimes more frequently than any other age group.
As it stands, there are already more than 1 in 100 Americans currently in jail or prison. Each one of those inmates costs taxpayers an average of $31,286 annually—from $14,603 per inmate in Kentucky all the way up to $60,076 in New York. All of America’s prisons cost $39 billion a year to maintain.
According to the Donohue-Levitt Hypothesis, to prohibit abortion is to implicitly encourage rising crime rates, which is obviously dangerous and undesirable, but also expensive.
How Do You Vote?
Supporting abortion rights diminishes government and taxpayer spending on health care and welfare, may lower overall future crime, and can save women and children from lives of poverty, abuse, or imprisonment.
If you don’t like big government spending, if you oppose welfare or “handouts,” if you disapprove of universal health care or just Obamacare, you have to support abortion. You can’t force women to bear unwanted children and then refuse to help support them.
Which ideals do you hold dearest, if you can’t have it both ways?