Hmmmm…dep’t: Is GWB objectively pro-abortion?

Abortions, which were going down under Clinton, are going up under GWB.

Well, that’s the opinion of Glen Harold Stassen of the Fuller Theological Seminary, who identifies himself as “pro-life” (in the sense of “anti-abortion”) and as a trained statistician:

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.

Stassen’s proposed explanations: more poverty, fewer jobs, and less health insurance, all leading women to believe that they can’t afford to carry a child to term. He cites other people’s research for the proposition that “two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child.”

I won’t pretend to believe that the number of abortions is an important measure of social well-being; Bill Clinton’s pledge to make it “safe, legal and rare” was good politics, but I wasn’t part of the constituency that was supposed to find it appealing. But I see no reason to doubt Dr. Stassen’s sincerity as a pro-lifer or his competence as a statistical analyst of social trends.

Update and possible correction: Well, maybe not. Stassen made some errors, and at least some of what he reports is an artifact of changed data-gathering patterns. He’s still convinced there’s something left. A reader who has looked at the matter doubts it. If you’re interested in the controversy, work back from Stassen’s response to his critics.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: