Post-Roe Reduction in Abortions
FiveThirtyEight has an article up on the change in abortion rates in the U.S. following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The most significant information is found in these paragraphs.
That topline number conceals an enormous amount of fluctuation between states. In all states that saw declines in their abortion numbers — which include the 15 states in which abortion was banned or severely limited over the summer — the number of abortions fell by about 22,000. Some of those women appear to have traveled out of state, because in other states, the number of abortions rose by an aggregate of about 12,000.
But nationwide, the movement of abortions from states with bans and restrictions to those with fewer restrictions on access wasn’t enough to make up the shortfall. Between April and August, the number of abortions declined by 6 percent, and it’s likely that the decline in abortions represents thousands of women who sought abortions illegally or didn’t get one at all. If these trends persist, there could be at least 60,000 fewer abortions in the next year as a result of the Dobbs decision (emphasis added).
Banning abortion reduces abortion. In fact, banning abortion is proving to be the single greatest tool for reducing abortion. For years there were evangelicals and conservatives who argued that overturning Roe was not a good use of energy, that there are more effective means of reducing abortion besides banning it. Even after the Dobbs decision I heard pro-lifers talk about how it would be counterproductive and not the best approach.
Dobbs has directly led to a 10% decrease in abortions in the United States, even as abortion is still legal in a majority of states with the majority of the population. That is easily the single greatest drop in abortions in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade. There will be illegal abortions, and people will travel to states where it remains legal to procure them, but the more abortion is banned, the less it will occur. Banning it on the state level should become the top strategic priority of the pro-life movement.
For those who think that 60,000-a-year number represents a repressive injustice, I suggest waiting until 2040 and listening to the interviews with 60,000 18-year olds who would have otherwise been killed.
Religious Liberty and Abortions
I have argued that the Satanic Temple’s claims that abortion restrictions are expressions of religious values to be correct, though I think the restrictions should still stand. Last year the Satanic Temple challenged Texas’ abortion restrictions on religious liberty grounds. The argument goes that Congress and the States may not restrict religious liberty, and abortion is a Satanic, religious practice: ergo, restricting abortion is a restriction on religious liberty. With the news that Roe v. Wade may be overturned, this argument has suddenly gained mainstream appeal.
I was happy to see Josh Blackman over at Reason explain why this approach to rolling back abortion restrictions is unlikely to succeed.
Balancing Murder: A Response to Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden
The defining feature of evangelicalism is disregard for the institutional church.
I was disappointed to see this proven again by “Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden”, particularly with the signatories Richard Mouw and Samuel Logan. This group argues in three paragraphs that Joe Biden’s policies reflect a more biblical, pro-life ethic than Donald Trump’s, abortion notwithstanding and evidence not provided. Citing the parachurch organization, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Pro-Lifers for Biden state, “‘Faithful evangelical civic engagement and witness must champion a biblically balanced agenda.’ Therefore we oppose ‘one issue’ political thinking because it lacks biblical balance.” What are the additional pro-life issues that policies on abortion need to be balanced against? Poverty, healthcare, climate change, racism, and, yes, that pressing issue, smoking.
My concern is not with the political question of the importance of these issues, but the way in which the church has been sidelined by this group in favor of an equalizing idea of “balance”…
A Political-Historical Mental Exercise
I’ve been thinking through the 1860 presidential election a lot recently.
The background: In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled in the terrible Dred Scott case that the U.S. Constitution did not protect the rights of black people, free or enslaved. It also invalidated the Missouri Compromise as an illegitimate extension of congressional power. The Missouri Compromise had prohibited slavery in the northern U.S., except for Missouri, and was intended to balance the power of slave and free states. Along with the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), this meant each new territory became slave-holding or free based on the votes of that state’s population, which inevitably lead to armed conflicts (notably Bleeding Kansas) between abolitionists and pro-slavery settlers, with abolitionists often winning out. In 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act passed Congress, requiring northern states to return runaway slaves to the south, something abolitionists obviously refused to do. The country was at a breaking point.
So, I’ve been wondering what I would do if I was teleported back to 1860 and able to vote…
Religious Liberty and Satanic Abortions
The Satanic Temple is at it again, and has unveiled a new abortion ritual that, in their view, “sanctifies the abortion process by instilling confidence and protecting bodily rights when undergoing the safe and scientific procedure.” The Satanic Temple is really a Objectivist-libertarian organization masquerading as a religious group in order to provocatively promote their vision of individual human autonomy. Their goal in this ritual is to invoke religious freedom protections against state obstructions to abortion. The Satanist Temple had previously argued that Missouri’s abortion restrictions were the imposition of Christian values on non-Christians, and therefore violated the separation of church and state. I addressed the subject at the time and agreed with the Satanist claim on the merits, though not the legitimacy of the practice. Why? A society cannot be organized with shared values that are morally or religiously neutral because there are no such values. The attempt at a secular American has only worked because of the preponderance of shared values, which is now unraveling.
The Satanist Temple’s approach to this via claims of religious liberty will again bear this out. Religious liberty in any society only works if that religion’s practice does not violate the society’s understanding of what is right and what are rights, and a secular society has to pretend that these values that transcend religious liberty are morally neutral. That is where the effectiveness of the Satanist’s strategy will be evident – the assertion that abortion restrictions trump the Satanic religious value of bodily autonomy cannot stand on a claim of moral or religious neutrality. Like with the Missouri cases in past years, the Satanists may fail in court, but the exposed fissures in American culture are widening and eventually some political body will rule a law constitutionally illegitimate because of the values it expresses. American culture and laws were premised on Christian values in many ways (e.g. respect for the life of the unborn), but our constitutional framework is atheistic (no laws allowed that establish religion); the less Christian the American people become, the greater the tension will grow between laws that enact Christian values and their constitutional legitimacy.