Sunday, September 07, 2008

Liberalism doesn't stop unwanted pregnancies, but it sure as hell kills a LOT of fetuses: Democrats tell us that the answer to reducing abortions among teens is not to make them illegal; rather, we need to support and expand the programs which address the factors that lead to abortion. In other words, we need to put Democrats in charge of the problem.

So, is there empirical support for this idea? Using Guttmacher and County and City Book data, I calculated the correlation between voting Democrat in 2004 and abortion rates among white girls ages 15-19 across the 32 states for which data are available. While I was at it I also looked at pregnancy rates (for white girls 15-19) and white IQ rates (Audacious' data):


Pearson correlation coefficients, N = 32

percent Democrat--abortion rate .64
percent Democrat--pregnancy rate -.15
pregnancy rate--abortion rate .11
IQ--pregnancy rate, -.65
IQ--abortion .14
IQ--percent Democrat .22

If you want to reduce abortions, the LAST thing you want to do is trust Democrats to do it--the positive correlation between the two is large.

And it's those idiot Red States that have all the white teen pregnancies, right? You know, the abstinence-type approach and all the Bible thumpers are total failures, compared to the scientific liberal strategy. Hardly--the correlation is trivial in size (-.15).

And the idea that (Republican) states that have all the pregnancies will consequently have all the abortions falls apart here as well--the correlation once again is insignificant (.11).

So, in other words, liberalism doesn't stop unwanted pregnancies, but it sure as hell kills a LOT of fetuses.

While I'm at it, I wanted to look at white IQ. My analysis supports the idea that smart states are able to avoid unwanted pregnancies (r = -.65) making them not have higher abortion rates (r = .14).

Finally, the positive association between being a Democrat state and having a high white mean IQ is small (.22).

10 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

Your post is very wrongheaded. You're conflating two very different things: voting Democratic, and the policies Democratic people enact. Obviously, Democrats have more abortions. They are more pro-choice. That has nothing to do with the effects of Democratic policies, which probably do decrease the number of abortions. If you want to show that they icrease that, you have to show that. You can't just point out that pro-choice people have more abortions as if that's some sort of argument against Democratic policies.

Ron Guhname said...

I’m happy to see you acknowledge that Democrats get more abortions, and pro-choice-ism leads to more abortion, and that the fact is obvious.

Using proxy measures is standard practice in social science. If state abortion-related policies were readily available, I would have used them. Proxies are much preferable to your thin air.

YOU need to collect data on state policies in order to establish that the policies are unrelated to the percent voting Democrat, and that the latter cannot serve as a valid proxy.

Do you suppose that the percent voting Democrat is a measure of the extent to which Republican policies have been implemented, and that the high abortion rates in Democratic states are the fault of Republicans?

Apart from the issue of programs to help women avoid abortion, you freely admit that the POLICY of choice obviously leads to more abortions. Put liberals in charge of abortion, and you get more, not fewer abortions. Liberals are lying when they claim that, "We are the ones who reduce abortion."

Joseph said...

One way to check the claim that Democratic policies decrease the number of abortions is to do a time series analysis. Are there increases in abortion rates when Democrats get elected? There is a little bit of evidence to indicate that, the decline in abortion rates in the 1990s, but the most relevant policy changes was welfare reform and that was pushed by Republicans.

Jewish Atheist said...

Abortion rates declined under Clinton, and I think that decline continued under Bush. I'm not sure what your point is here -- one can reduce abortions in a context where it's legal and lots of people are pro-choice, but I can't imagine who would argue that abortions would go up if abortion were outlawed. Obviously, that would reduce the number of abortions. (It would also increase the death-rate of women who tried to get abortions anyway or took some black-market version of an abortificant, no doubt, but that's a different story.)

If your ONLY goal is to reduce abortions, you should make it illegal and punishable by death. (It is murder, according to you guys, right?) Of course you should also push contraception, welfare for single moms, health care for pregnant women, etc. But Republicans don't like that sort of thing.

Chastity belts would also be a huge plus. And female genital mutilation might have a good effect. My point is that there are tradeoffs everywhere. For me, the lack of freedom as well as the tangible negatives from criminalizing such a popular procedure greatly outweigh any purported benefits to reducing the number of abortions.

Ron Guhname said...

ja: Why should conservatives want to support ineffective and occasionally perverse social policies when you freely admit that the truly effective way to reduce abortions is to make them illegal?

The abortion rate began to decline in 1981 and has continued since.

In 1972, 60 American women died from an illegal abortion. The number of deaths from legal abortions was 10 in 2003 (the most recent year available). Zero fetuses were killed legally in 1969; 1,200,000 were killed in 2005 (most recent year).

http://www.guttmacher.org/presentations/trends.pdf

Anonymous said...

"Using Guttmacher and County and City Book data, I calculated the correlation between voting Democrat in 2004 and abortion rates among white girls ages 15-19 across the 32 states for which data are available."

Is voting Democrat for whites only or for the entire population? I thought Sailer used only the white vote share and your hypothesis seems to be a corollary of his.

Ron Guhname said...

Anon: No, I wanted to look at the correlation between abortion and the degree of liberalism and liberal policies in a state--not liberalism of whites in the state. I focused on white abortion and preganancy rates since the racial composition of the state is a confounding factor.

This issue is connected to the argument raised by
Jewish Atheist too. He argues that lots of Democrats leads to lots of abortions, but on an individual basis. The way I do my analysis, Mississippi's liberalism score, for example, reflects all the blacks who live in that state. Same for Hispanics in a state like NM. But the overall liberalism--white abortion correlation is still strong. This is an indication that the individual level might not be the only level at which things are operating.

Jewish Atheist said...

ja: Why should conservatives want to support ineffective and occasionally perverse social policies when you freely admit that the truly effective way to reduce abortions is to make them illegal?

Aren't conservatives supposed to care about individual rights as well? Abortion has nothing to do with liberal/conservative. It has to do with whether you believe a fetus has the moral status of a baby.

Think about smoking. It's perfectly reasonable for a conservative (or a liberal) to want to reduce the number of smokers as much as possible WITHOUT MAKING IT ILLEGAL. Many people feel the same way about abortion.

In 1972, 60 American women died from an illegal abortion. The number of deaths from legal abortions was 10 in 2003 (the most recent year available). Zero fetuses were killed legally in 1969; 1,200,000 were killed in 2005 (most recent year).

Just curious, how many were killed ILlegally in 1969?

SFG said...

Aren't conservatives supposed to care about individual rights as well? Abortion has nothing to do with liberal/conservative. It has to do with whether you believe a fetus has the moral status of a baby.

Yes, but it also ties into other issues like the importance of traditional values and women's right to self-determination. It explains why, for example, the Catholic Church is so right-wing on this despite being quite left-wing on poverty and immigration these days.

teacher.paris said...

Hitler himself, and the Nazi doctrine he created, were unequivocally opposed to any individual right to abortion.

"On May 26, 1933, two pieces of penal legislation . . . prohibit[ed] the availability of abortion facilities and services, . . . resulting in a 65 percent increase in yearly convictions between 1932 and 1938, when their number reached almost 7,000. From 1935 on, doctors and midwives were obliged to notify the regional State Health Office of every miscarriage. Women's names and addresses were then handed over to the police, who investigated the cases suspected of actually being abortions. In 1936 Heinrich Himmler, head of all police forces and the SS, established the Reich's Central Agency for the Struggle Against Homosexuality and Abortion, and in 1943, after three years of preparation by the Ministries of the Interior and of Justice, the law entitled Protection of Marriage, Family, Motherhood called for the death penalty in 'extreme cases'."

Sounds like sound social policy to me.