An interesting connection
- 13 October 2004
The below article crossed my email today. I found it to be a bit
disturbing as well as informative. I will let the author and the
article speak for themselves.
The link is: Sojourners [sojourners@...]
Look for the SojoMail 10.13.04
Y'all be good,
Pro-life? Look at the fruits
by Dr. Glen Harold Stassen
I am a Christian ethicist, and trained in statistical analysis. I am
consistently pro-life. My son David is one witness. For my family,
"pro-life" is personal. My wife caught rubella in the eighth week of her
pregnancy. We decided not to terminate, to love and raise our baby.
David is legally blind and severely handicapped; he also is a blessing
to us and to the world.
I look at the fruits of political policies more than words. I analyzed
the data on abortion during the George W. Bush presidency. There is no
single source for this information - federal reports go only to 2000,
and many states do not report - but I found enough data to identify
trends. My findings are counterintuitive and disturbing.
Abortion was decreasing. When President Bush took office, the nation's
abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4% decline during the
1990s. This was an average decrease of 1.7% per year, mostly during the
latter part of the decade. (This data comes from Minnesota Citizens
Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies).
Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to
continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the
I found three states that have posted multi-year statistics through
2003, and abortion rates have risen in all three: Kentucky's increased
by 3.2% from 2000 to 2003. Michigan's increased by 11.3% from 2000 to
2003. Pennsylvania's increased by 1.9% from 1999 to 2002. I found 13
additional states that reported statistics for 2001 and 2002. Eight
states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6% average increase), and
five saw a decrease (4.3% average decrease).
Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates
appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more
abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been
expected before this change of direction.
How could this be? I see three contributing factors:
First, two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child
(Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Web site). In the past three
years, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Hoover had
there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current
administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the
minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income,
many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.
Second, half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate
(Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). Men who are jobless usually do
not marry. Only three of the 16 states had more marriages in 2002 than
in 2001, and in those states abortion rates decreased. In the 16 states
overall, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and
7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and
Third, women worry about health care for themselves and their children.
Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before
this presidency - with women of childbearing age overrepresented in
those 5.2 million - abortion increases.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops warned of this likely outcome if support for
families with children was cut back. My wife and I know - as does my son
David - that doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical insurance, special
schooling, and parental employment are crucial for a special child.
David attended the Kentucky School for the Blind, as well as several
schools for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. He was
mainstreamed in public schools as well. We have two other sons and five
grandchildren, and we know that every mother, father, and child needs
public and family support.
What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate
issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere
tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, child care,
and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need
policies that provide jobs and health insurance and support for
Glen Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at
Fuller Theological Seminary, and the co-author of Kingdom Ethics:
Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Christianity Today's Book of
the Year in theology or ethics.
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