I do appreciate the sentiment and thoughts. I have very carefully considered these arguments, and at one point seriously contemplated the possibility of voting for Bob Barr. (Sorry, Senator McCain--I could never vote for anyone who labels a Palestinian peace activist as a "neo-Nazi.") The arguments are as follows:
- Abortion restrictions such as parental consent/notification laws actually do reduce abortions, according to a 2006 analysis by Prof. Michael New.
- Obama plans to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (if it is passed), which would eliminate any restriction of any type on abortion. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals could no longer refuse to provide abortion. Partial-birth abortions could no longer be restricted. State parental notification and informed consent laws would be nullified.
As I examined the data as carefully as possible, though, I think my original public policy analysis was sound. A vote for Obama is vote to improve the economic and societal situation of expectant mothers, and thus is a vote to reduce abortion. Let's see why:
1. New's analysis is faulty because it fails to control for the correct variables. Prof. New only controlled for income growth and racial demographics in his analysis of the effects of abortion restriction policies. The Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) analysis, however, controls for 16 economic and welfare policy factors, in addition to the abortion restriction policies. Once these additional factors are considered, the effect of abortion restriction policies becomes immaterial. As Wright and Bailey report in the CACG paper:
Using the nationwide data, we also analyzed the effect of state-level laws that are designed to prevent abortions. In the Appendix, we show that laws concerning parental and informed consent had no significant effect on the number of abortions in the United States. We tested for the effect of both passing and enforcing parental and informed consent laws, and find that the net effect on the abortion rate of both passing and enforcing these laws was very close to zero. While we did find that partial-birth abortion laws are associated with decreases in the abortion rate, this result was not statistically different from zero and was not consistent across different specifications. These results stand in contrast to earlier research, but that research did not control for important socioeconomic factors such as government assistance and employment rates by gender.Thus the primary policy factors to reduce abortions are economic assistance programs that can help expectant mothers, although the elimination of Medicaid funding for abortions also helps.
2. The Freedom of Choice Act appears to be little more than lip service to the pro-choice movement. I urge my readers to go read the actual Act, rather than rely on what I or anyone else says. You will see that it basically enacts as a matter of federal legislation the policies already propounded by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
- It does not prevent medical professionals from exercising their conscience--a right which does not rely on state abortion restriction legislation.
- It does not prevent states from restricting partial-birth abortions; in fact, the effect of the Act does not extend beyond the 22d week of pregnancy, since it states
A government may not...deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose...to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the womanThis balancing of the unborn child's right to life with the woman's life or health is no different from today's law.
- And I do not believe that the law will affect state's choices not to fund abortions with Medicaid dollars. The Act is spectacularly vague on the question of Medicaid funding, and even if it could be interpreted to override state funding choices, it would never survive a state challenge based on the 10th Amendment ("the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.")