Monday, October 18, 2004

Prolifers should vote for someone who wholeheartedly supports abortion?

If you get a chance read this column to see the dreadful reasoning of a man who decided to vote for John Kerry long ago and is now trying to rationalize that vote with his prolife beliefs. It's a case study in bad premises, faulty use of statistics, and horrible reasoning.

In this column, Christian ethicist Glen Stassen reasons that it would be ok to vote for John Kerry if you are prolife because Bush's economic policies have led to an increase in the number of abortions and that if John Kerry is elected then abortions will go down because his economic policies will improve life for women in unplanned pregnances.

First, bad premises. Stassen assumes that the President of the United States is in complete control of the economy. He never mentions that the recession of 2001 was already predicted 6 months beforehand or that the September 11 attacks took a toll or that the dotcom bubble burst - all things that the President's ecomomic policies had nothing to do with. He also never mentions that the economy has improved in the last year and that the unemployment rate is at 5.4% - a rate that is similar to 1996 when Clinton was re-elected. Governors, state legislatures, and the US Congress all have nothing to do with the economy in Stassen's world. He mentions 5.2 more Americans without health care -and this could lead to abortions but fails to mentions that this increase is fairly relative to the increase in actual Americans. For example, if 10% of Americans don't have health care and there are 250 million Americans in 2000 while there are 300 million Americans in 2004 then the # of Americans without health care will go up by 5 million from 25 million to 30 million. He also never cites if there were more Americans without health care after Clinton's 8 years.

He also seems to assume that abortions were decreasing in the 90's based on Clinton's economic policies and then Bush turned this all around. He never mentions the possibility that the decrease in abortion could be based on prolife laws that help reduce abortion. For example, in 1988, Michigan paid for the abortions of poor women - in that year there were 46,747 abortion in Michigan. In late 1988, Michigan citizens thru a petition drive (because Democratic governor James Blanchard continously vetoed previous attempts) banned medicaid funding of abortions. In 1989, there were 36,557 abortions in Michigan. A drop of over 10 thousand.

In the 90's numerous state legislatures put forward prolife laws such as parental consent, informed consent, stopping tax payer funded abortions, etc. that more than likely led to fewer abortions. To pass these laws, prolife legislators and governors were needed. John Kerry would have vetoed all of these laws if he could of. Also, my guess is that debate over partial-birth abortion in the 1990's led many people to see the grotesque nature of abortion. Stassen editorial acknowledges none of this. In his writing, economic policies lead to having an abortion or not having an abortion - simple as that.

Second, faulty use of statistics. Stassen uses the abortion statistics from 16 states and then writes, "In total numbers, 7,869 more abortions were performed in these 16 states during Bush's second year in office than previously. If this trend reflects our nation, 24,000 more abortions were performed during Bush's second year in office than the year before (or three years before in the first three states). Had the previous trends continued, 28,000 fewer abortions should have occurred each year of the Bush era. All in all, probably 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than expected from the earlier trends."

Anybody who has taken a basic statistics class in college is well aware that "this trend" is not at all necessary reflective. 16 states are not a random sample for the United States. For example, reported abortions in Michigan on Michigan residents in 2000 was 26,027. In 2003, it was 28,584. I could take the statistics from 16 of Michigan's 83 counties and then use those statistics in the same way Stassen does to assume that abortions actually decreased. In Oakland county, abortions went down 27, in Kalamazoo county by 16, in Berrien county by 39, in Cass by 10, in Mecosta by 16, in Mason by 6, in Ionia by 5, in Marquette by 10, in Muskegon by 40, in Van Buren by 32, in Chippewa by 11, in Alcona by 7, in Barry by 23, they stayed the same in Alpena, went up by 11 in Hillsdale, and went up 12 in Tuscola. By my statistics abortions decreased by 219 in these 16 counties. I could then write "if these trend reflects Michigan, then 1136 less abortions were performed in Michigan in 2003 than in 2000." Stassen's statistically evaluation is a case study in what happens when you use statistics to prove your conclusion instead of using statistics to come to a conclusion. No one knows for sure how many abortions have been performed in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Plus, in Colorado the abortion statistics went up by a whopping 67% not because that many more abortions were taking place but because in previous years abortionists weren't reporting the abortions that they performed. This huge increase would set off warning signs in the mind of anyone who was actually familiar with abortion statistics. Go here to learn what Colorado RTL and Colorado's health department has to say.

Third, bad reasoning. OK, let's assume that Stassen's premises aren't faulty and his faulty use of statistics (some faulty) wasn't faulty. Let's say for arguments sake that President Bush and his economic policies have increased the # of abortions while John Kerry's economic policies will decrease the # of abortions. Is it then rationale for a prolifer to vote for John Kerry based on abortion? Of course not.

For example, what if President Bush's economic policies lowered the # of rapes in our country yet he was personally in favor of making rape legal while Kerry's policies increased the # of rapes even though he was in favor of keeping rape illegal. Would it be rationale then for an advocate of women who have been raped to vote for Bush?

Plus, Stassen's article seems defeatist. The way to stop abortion in America is to foster a culture of life where intentionally killing unborn children is illegal. The way to make abortion illegal in the states is to overturn Roe v. Wade so individual states and their people can make the decision. This won't happen under Kerry who has vowed to only appoint pro-choice judges.

Update 10/26

National RTL has a response to the Stassen article up on their site here

It seems Dr. Stassen might not necessarily be "prolife" and Arizona's abortion increase is similar to Colorado's.

1 comment:

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