Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life Links 4/14/10

Michael New responds to Andrew Koppelman's claims that red state policies and the religious right increase abortions.
This argument occurs once again in a widely circulated essay entitled “How the Religious Right Promotes Abortion” by Northwestern University Law Professor Andrew Koppelman. Koppelman favorably cites Naomi Cahn and June Carbone’s book Red Families vs. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture. According to Koppelman, the hostility in red states to both contraception and comprehensive sex education leads to a greater incidence of abortion. Conversely, even though blue states are more tolerant of premarital sex, their support for comprehensive sex education and contraception actually lowers abortion rates. Koppelman spends much of the rest of the essay criticizing the religious right for their opposition to both sex education and government funding of contraception.

Unfortunately, Koppelman’s claims are based on rhetorical sleights of hand and a faulty analysis of data. What is unique about this essay is that all three of Koppelman’s arguments are incorrect. First, there is little evidence that more federal funding for contraceptives will reduce abortion rates. Second, there is some evidence that abstinence-only sex education is effective at reducing sexual activity among minors. Finally, red states actually have lower abortion rates, in part because they have placed more legal restrictions on abortion.......

However, the best way to empirically test Koppelman’s claims is to simply analyze abortion data from the state level. If Koppelman’s claims are correct, then sexually permissive, contraceptive friendly blue states should have the lowest abortion rates. However, that is not the case. Data from both the Centers for Disease Control and the Alan Guttmacher clearly indicate that abortion rates are significantly lower in red states than in blue states.

Yesterday, Nebraska's Governor Dave Heineman signed Nebraska's fetal pain law (which prohibits abortion at 20 weeks and beyond) and the law requiring abortionists to screen women for risk factors. The fetal pain bill isn't scheduled to take effect until October.

Ed Whelan shoots down Emily Bazelon's attempt to defend possible Supreme Court pick Diane Wood's abortion rulings.

Some prolifers in North Dakota have submitted petition language to the state's secretary of state to ban fetal "skull crushing." If the language is approved they would need to gather 13,000 to get the language on the ballot.

1 comment: