COLUMN: The socioeconomic benefits of abortion
The United States is always talking about abortion.
It comes up in political campaigns, Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominees and, more recently, the debate on health care policy.
But of all the reasons to support or oppose abortion, discussed repeatedly in our national dialogue on this matter, I find the socioeconomic benefits are often overlooked.
For instance, according to research published by Jean Schroedel, a professor of political science at Claremont Graduate University, states that oppose abortion spend far more taxpayer dollars on foster care, education, welfare and the adoption of children than those with lax abortion laws.
She also found that women in these states suffer from lower levels of education and higher levels of poverty. There is a larger gender pay gap and fewer mandates requiring insurers to cover minimum stays in the hospital after giving birth in these states.
Phillip Levine, a professor of economics at Wellesley University, notes in an interview with The Atlantic that after Roe v. Wade, there was an observable increase in college graduation rates and lower rates of childhood welfare.
A 2001 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that the dramatic crime reduction in the mid-1990s was due, in part, to the legalization of abortion 20 years prior.
And a review by the Guttmacher Institute of 66 research studies found that couples who experience an unintended pregnancy are more likely to develop depression and anxiety, experience failed relationships post-birth and have poor relationships with their children.
There are clear social and economic benefits to keeping abortion legal and utilized.
Ignoring the data, some are often quick to say women should be forced to deal with the consequences of their actions and shouldn’t have sex if they’re not ready to have a kid.
Essentially, these people are saying women shouldn’t be allowed to use advanced medical technology to remedy a situation that yielded unwelcome results.
But this is something men do frequently.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading cause of death among men is heart disease. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, heart disease is primarily caused by smoking, unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise—all of which are irresponsible choices.
And, yet, we wouldn’t suggest that men should be denied medical treatment because they need to deal with the consequences of their actions.
This argument is nothing more than a senseless double standard disproportionately imposed on women seeking abortions.
From here, the only possible retort to these arguments is that abortion is immoral—or, wrongly, murder. These beliefs are largely religious, as the medical community hasn’t recognized humans and fetuses as biological and neurological equals.
More importantly, the government of the United States should not act in a way that affirms a certain moral position. Its sole mission should be to promote and protect the well-being of the greatest number of American citizens in the most effective way possible.
Because access to abortion promotes our well-being by almost every metric of public life, as demonstrated above, keeping abortion safe, legal and well-utilized satisfies the government’s purpose.
Until abortion proves to be detrimental to the quality of life for American citizens, abortion should be uncontested as a matter of public policy.
Morality is for individuals—or groups, in some settings. Morality is not the business of the government.
The conversation on abortion should end there.
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