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The Freak of Abortion

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It’s been over a year and the silence is unbearable. About this time last year, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner released their controversial book, Freakonomics. In it, Levitt and Dubner made some unconventional comparisons and in so doing, made some difficult conclusions. The bombshell of the book, as could be expected, was their claim that the major drop-off in crime in the 1990s was due in large part to the legalization of abortion in 1973. In other words, it was Roe v. Wade, not any crime-fighting tactic, which led to the dramatic decrease in both non-violent and violent crime during the last decade.

It is not my purpose here to question their findings or to attack or defend Levitt and Dubner. Their conclusions are their own and deserve a second glance. What I have found extremely interesting is the resounding silence from the “pro-choice” community to Freakonomics. One would think that when a slam-dunk like this comes along, every abortion advocate in the country would be singing its praises, but this has not happened. When it was discovered that women who had abortions are at a higher risk for breast cancer in later life, pro-life supporters were all over this and used it as another bullet in their argument arsenal. Yet, pro-abortionists have avoided the crime-reducing findings of Levitt and Dubner like the plague. While it is true that Levitt and Dubner are not recommending their findings be taken as a panacea for a reduction in crime, it seems rather self-evident that if legalized abortion were responsible, even in part, for the drop in crime, then pro-abortionists should be heralding this as a victory of sorts.

I believe that what has actually happened with this published cause and effect of legal abortion and lower crime is the exact opposite. Instead of being seen as positive factor in the war on crime and women’s “reproductive rights,” Levitt and Dubner have made abortion a tangible reality. Before, abortion was something that had little to do with the population at-large; it was more of a personal decision with little if any social ramifications. But now, Levitt and Dubner have brought the horror of abortion to the political table in a very real way. No longer must we wait for the child to become a criminal to put him in jail for life, we have a legal mechanism that can eliminate him before he even takes his first breath.

One study has shown that the typical child who went unborn in the earliest years of legalized abortion would have been 50 percent more likely than average to live in poverty; he would have also been 60 percent more likely to grow up with just one parent. These two factors—childhood poverty and a single-parent household—are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future…In other words, the very factors that drove millions of American women to have an abortion also seemed to predict that their children, had they been born, would have led unhappy and possibly criminal lives.[1]

What their statistical analysis has shown is that capital punishment works—fewer criminals do indeed make for less crime. The cold statistical logic is inescapable, yet no one seems willing to hold up these findings as a positive reason for keeping abortion legal. Perhaps it’s too morbid. And isn’t that the point? Instead of talking about “choice” or “reproductive rights” or “fetuses,” Levitt and Dubner have revealed abortion for what it really is: murder—the elimination of a potential life. Or maybe it’s because if we followed their logic to its consistent end, the next step would be mass executions in the prisons. Maybe an “eye for eye” is a real deterrent after all. Prisons don’t rehabilitate criminals; repeat offenders are the norm, not the exception. If abortion works for eliminating future criminals, maybe we should be eliminating the present ones as well. Send a directive to all police stations around the country: “Shoot first, ask questions later.”

Levitt and Dubner have, in reality, done a great service for the pro-life community. While their statistics and cause and effect relationships should be a huge talking point for “pro-choicers,” it has pulled away the mask to reveal the “Grim Reaper” of the whole abortion industry. Planned Parenthood and others have been getting away with de-personalizing abortion for far too long. Abortion is the killing of a human being, period. Not only has legalized abortion deprived us of potential criminals, it has deprived us of future astronauts, artists, doctors, teachers, cab drivers, and firemen. Perhaps these statistics, which one would think should be such a boon to the abortionists, will actually be the beginning of their undoing by exposing their underhanded tactics and misinformation.


[1] Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics (New York, NY: William Morrow, 2005) 138-139. Emphasis mine.

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