Count the Cost

The Economic Realities of Abortion:  Running From This Social Issue is Financial Folly

We cannot overstate the moral cost of abortion on society, yet information about negative economic impact along with opportunity cost is rarely brought to bear as a one-two punch in the challenge to end it. Economic discussions generally focus on the dollar amount required to obtain the procedure, false claims regarding the cost savings to society due to lower crime rates and potential increases in entitlement spending. Upon closer inspection, many of these inchoate arguments bare false witness. Additionally, they are reckless to ignore slower growth in population due to legal abortion, therefore slower growth in aggregate demand—particularly with an aging population combined with a birth rate that is not keeping up with necessary replacement numbers for continued growth. Fertility rates are now at their lowest since the 1920s.

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While elected officials in Washington D.C. wring their hands arguing over raising or cutting taxes as a way to solve the economic woes of the United States, absent is a discussion regarding the economic impact of abortion-on-demand, including the potential for increasing and maintaining economic growth, thereby expanding the tax base, rather than increasing tax rates on an ever-shrinking share of income earners. Remarkably, many on the left in favor of protecting abortion rights will provide statistics that promote illegal immigration as a way to increase the tax base, while hypocritically ignoring the millions of infants who have not been born since Roe v. Wade. Some estimates put the loss of downstream tax revenue in the trillions due to abortion. Currently, there are roughly eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States versus fifty-four million babies destroyed by abortion. While a concern for increasing the population for economic reasons is valid and necessary, the illegal immigrant population by shear numbers is fully eclipsed by the number of aborted children. There would be little to no need to import more citizens for a labor pool or an increase in economic activity if not for abortion wiping out nearly 30% of our current population since legalization. Illegal immigrants have only made up 3.35% of those population losses.

For their part, Pro-Life politicians additionally fail to frame their position as a socioeconomic travesty, much less spend time to dispel common economic fabrications surrounding abortion. If proponents of Pro-Life would only take the time to think outside of the box they might view abortion as the dual issue that it truly is—both social and economic— and argue both sides of this coin. Instead of going to the trouble, the elites within the party structure are now attempting to abandon the topic altogether rather than formulating an academic response to challengers. In a subsequent blog post I will be discussing comprehensive data on the actual  price tag in lost GDP and taxes from from abortion since the early 1960s.

Dispelling the Myths Part I: Abortion and Crime Rates

Current estimates on the economic cost of crime in the U.S. are roughly $17.3 billion per year. One of the tenets of the economic arguments made in favor of abortion is an axiomatic claim that abortion has decreased the crime rate, thereby saving money for society in general. The oft quoted study making this argument is the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis. In his book Freakonomics, Levitt claimed, “abortion was one of the greatest crime-lowering factors in American history.” However in 2005, two economists from the Federal Reserve of Boston, Foote and Goetz, unearthed a computer error resulting in false data mining supporting Levitt’s claim. Upon properly calculating crime rates over the same period of time, Foote and Goetz found there was no effect on crime rates resulting from legalized abortion by using crime per capita rather than arrest totals—Levitt’s methodology.

Additionally, dispelling the notion that abortion cuts down on the amount of children who might otherwise be born into disadvantaged homes, (thereby decreasing the numbers of those who might have a higher propensity for committing crimes later in life) is a study by Akerlof, Yellen and Katz in 1996. Their study, as well as current datasets, indicate out-of-wedlock births have actually increased since Roe v. Wade, including 41% born into poverty.  Elevated rates of abortion continue, yet out-of-wedlock births are also on the rise.  How then has abortion truly reduced the potential of future criminals from the most at-risk demographic?

unwedThe misinformation doesn’t end there. In a study conducted by Yale University by John R. Lott, Jr. and John E. Whitley they state, “We find evidence that legalizing abortion increased murder rates by around about 0.5 to 7 percent.” 

The statistics on child abuse also expose the illogical argument that it’s better to murder a baby prior to birth rather than bringing an unwanted child into the world that might be abused— a most heinous crime on the innocent amongst us. Upon investigation, Canadian psychiatrist Philip Ney wrote, “It appeared that the rate of child abuse did not decrease with freely available abortions. In fact, the opposite was true.  In a 2005  Dr. Priscilla Coleman, professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green University, conducted a study on the possible relationship with perinatal loss (voluntary or involuntary) and subsequent child abuse within a family.  Her results found a 99% risk increase for child abuse if the mother experienced this loss regardless of whether it was due to miscarriage or abortion. Not only has abortion not lived up to the hype advocates pitch on decreasing child abuse, it may be a marker for increasing the number of victims who befall the tragedy. This does not only come with a high physical and psychological cost for these young victims, but also carries a hefty economic price tag. At an estimated minimum cost of $124 billion per year due to child abuse, the exponential increase of these crimes since 1974 has been anything but an abortion “cost saver,” much less lowered the incidence of child abuse. However, this does not play well to the crowd of Pro-Choice advocates and their argument that abortion reduces crime, particularly crimes against children.  The real crime is the continuation of misleading data promoted by Pro-Choice advocates.

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