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Friday, October 21, 2005

CRIME and ABORTION - The 5th and Final in the Series

This is the fifth and final segment of a five-part series.
Part One: "How the media misreported recent crime statistics, as well as misunderstood them, giving us a false sense of security."

Part Two: "How racist and how wrong some of Steven Levitt's (Freakonomics) 'abortion lowers crime' conclusions really are. And you thought William Bennett was bad."

Part Three: "Crime was already 'reduced' before Roe v. Wade, suggesting that crime rose due to other causes we shouldn't (but do) ignore, plus many instances of crime spiking after the Roe/Crime Effect should have prevented that."

Part Four: "More crime spikes after abortion removed between 2 and 20.4 million 'potential criminals' from the U.S. population...a non-exhaustive list."

Today's Segment: "How another major factor affected crime, one basically ignored by Freakonomics author Levitt, one which may have been a result of legalized abortion; also how five renowned Ph.D. criminologists/economists doubt Levitt's 'abortion lowers crime' theory, even calling it a 'myth.'"

"...some details are misreported, misexplained, misread and/or misanalyzed."


Is abortion the cause of the/any drop in crime? That really hasn't been proven, despite what Steven Levitt's bank account might indicate. Is abortion the cause of increased fatherlessness? That's hard to prove as well. But research published in Family Policy's 2000 journal did find that,
Fatherlessness is the critical factor that predicts potential criminality, regardless of race, age, income, education, or neighborhood of the mother. Fully 70 percent or more of criminals have grown up fatherless. [Woodard, Joseph K, "Has Abortion Reduced Crime? A New Study Overlooks the Side Effects." Family Policy, Vol. 13 No. 2. March-April 2000]
Responses to the recent Bennett flap highlight the disparity in awareness of this issue. Miami Herald columnist Robert Steinback's October 12, 2005 column accused Bennett—but not Levitt et. al. because he probably doesn't know, like 99.999999% of us—of
think[ing] black babies are criminally inclined at the moment of birth.
But William Raspberry of The Washington Post ably replied, giving both his reason and the obvious solution for the crime problem:
…America's black inner cities have been denuded of their adult men.
Did Levitt and Donohue mention any of this factor? Briefly. Their 1991 and 1998 papers put forth the same "bad argument" for which Bennett was crucified. Ironically it was Levitt's book that apparently raised the question on Bennett's radio show.

The 1991 and 1998 papers wrote:
A woman's ability to provide a nurturing environment to a child is likely to fluctuate over time, depending on the presence of a father in the child's life, whether the pregnancy is wanted, the woman's age, education, and income, and drug and alcohol abuse both in utero and after the birth.
The 2001 version said the same things, but reversed the order, putting "father" fourth instead of first:
A given woman's ability to provide a nurturing environment to a child can fluctuate over time depending on the woman's age, education, and income, as well as the presence of a father in the child's life, whether the pregnancy is wanted, and any drug or alcohol abuse both in utero and after the birth. [emphasis this author's]
Levitt et. al. didn't really consider fatherlessness, nor look for its effect on crime. Yet they surely should have considered all the published research on what most influences potential criminality. Instead they relied on other studies associating "early childbearing" and "unintended pregnancies" with "a causal and adverse effect…on the health and social and economic well-being of children" and with "poorer prenatal care, greater smoking and drinking during pregnancy, and lower birthweights."

In 1960, under ten million U.S. children lived without their biological fathers. In 2001, twenty-three million did (one-third of all children), a 134 percent increase. Some estimate that as many as "60 percent of children born in the 1990s" are fatherless [Jason Fields, The Living Arrangements of Children: 1996, Washington, D.C.: Census Bureau, 2001; Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., and Andrew J. Cherlin, Divided Families: What Happens to Children When Parents Part (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991).

Also in 1960, the U.S. saw 160 violent crimes and about 4 murders per 100,000 people. In 1996 there were 636.5 violent crimes and 7.4 murders (both per 100,000 people): increases of about 300 percent and 85 percent respectively.

If fatherlessness is the real "critical factor" in crime, and it increased 134 percent over four decades, then wouldn't decreasing fatherlessness, not increased abortion, be a larger part of the solution? And is abortion a factor in increased fatherlessness? Quite possibly. A father's rights regarding his unborn children are nonexistent. Is there damage done to the mother/father and parent/born-children bond as regards born children as a result of abortion and the removal of fathers’ rights regarding their children? Personally I've seen it many times but am still seeking research on that question.

Underlying factors including but not limited to fatherlessness are still a problem which we now ignore because of this "credit" given to Roe for keeping our crime in check.


Lawrence Sherman, leading criminologist, University of Pennsylvania.
Alfred Blumstein, Criminologist, Carnegie Mellon University.
Ted Joyce, Ph.D. in Economics, Professor at Baruch College and researcher with the National Bureau of Economic Research.
James Fox, Northeastern University, The Lipman Family Professor of Criminal Justice.
Ted Goertzel, Rutgers University Sociology Professor.

These five all find serious issues with Levitt's and Donohue's research and conclusions. They all agree the researchers should not be dismissed summarily, and that the theory deserves thoughtful, careful attention. But they also cite "a lack of data," a lack of valid regression analysis, other causes that could fit the facts and conclusions, and the assumptions the authors made.

Dr. Joyce said,
[Y]ou would need to study 50,000 women, half of whom terminated their pregnancies, half of whom wanted to but did not, and follow them and their children over time. Can you tease out that effect from crude aggregate data on crime 15 to 20 years later? I don't think so.
Dr. Goertzel calls the "Legalized Abortion Caused the Crime Drop in the 1990s" theory a "Myth." Dr. Fox said:
[Levitt and Donohue] missed most of the shifts in crime
during this period - the upward trend during the late 1980s crack era and the downward correction in the post-crack years. This is something like studying the effects of moon phases on ocean tides but only recording data for periods of low tide.[Myths of murder and multiple regression - use of econometrics in concealed-weapons policymaking, Skeptical Inquirer, Jan-Feb, 2002].In 2003, Levitt seemed to respond to this last problem. In new research factoring in "adequate controls for the crack epidemic" over time, he claimed his research still "strongly supports the hypothesis that legalized abortion reduces crime."

Remember he theorized as early as 1991 and as late as 2001 that abortion's effect would keep reducing crime 1-2 percent a year for the next two decades. Firstly, Levitt's conclusion is virtually the same: in the 1991 paper, the two 1998 papers and--without the polically incorrect language of those--also in the 2001 paper. How can he have the exact same, "rolling prediction" that never changes, at the start and at the end of a decade's time and supposedly a new, fresh look at the new data and research in those ten years? It isn't what scientists would say is very sound.

Taking his prediction at face value, though, it doesn't account for these facts, to name but a few:
  • from 1998 through 2004, drug sale/manufacture arrests remain virtually level (i.e., don't decline) and possession arrests increased 16 percent.
  • Perhaps we "won" the crack war, as coke/heroin arrests are down 7 percent since 1998, but synthetic drug arrests increased 97 percent,
  • "other drugs" increased 37 percent,
  • marijuana increased 13 percent,
  • total drug arrests are up 12 percent,
  • and yet by 2004, there were 18.8 million fewer people aged 19 through 34 (that's 9.4 million fewer still than in 1998).

By no means do these examples thoroughly disprove the abortion/crime theory or even negate isolated instances supporting it. These examples themselves are isolated. Pro-choice folks can supply them if they choose; I don't presume to say I've shot them all to pieces.

But comfort-blanket soundbites—from media, published research studies and book authors—must be questioned. Statistics and data can be and are manipulated as well as reported in vague, misleading ways that are easily misinterpreted. I've suggested a non-exhaustive handful in this series, after a few weeks of studying "crude aggregate data." I could probably find more, if this was a paying job!

It goes both ways too: I don't quote or associate with some pro-life analysts who refute this theory as their credibility has been otherwise tarnished. Others make blanket soundbite statements without respected reference or they do so with harsh, personal condemnation.

I'm not the first or the last to say that researchers and media of both stripes must be taken to task if they don't investigate fully what they're feeding us or are being fed themselves. But most Americans "get their news" from the major half-hour news buffets or skim headlines on the fronts of the major newspaper sections: "only one-fifth of college students read the paper."

Contrary to what the cognoscenti, talking heads, politicos and other various and sundry pundits believe, most Americans are not so tuned in, even if we are tuned in. Most of us don't read news items entirely. Neither newspapers nor TV news programs have been proven in recent years to be 100% stellar sources of accuracy or objectivity anyway, but neither do most of us read online sources or (heaven forbid) respected journalistic blogs for supplemental and cross-checking information: "…only 11 percent of 18-to-30-year-olds in a National Geographic poll said their main source of news was the Internet." (from Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News, by David Mindich).

No matter who "writes it down" though, we're just not getting 100% reality in the "facts" we take on faith. If the blanket seems too comforting to be true, it is very well more likely to be full of holes.
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NATIONAL REVIEW Online's The Corner ~ Kathryn Jean Lopez links to Ap blog, 1/22/07

Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: Banno On Boxer and the Illegal Abortion Deaths Urban Legend

San Diego Union Tribune: more Boxer Urban-Legend-Debunk coverage

Ellen Goodman retraction impetus: Aa blog initiates The Straight Dope coverage...and is listed in National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru's book The Party of Death, p. 255, Chap. 3 Endnote #11,   4/2006

NY Daily News: "Atheist's Site Is All The Rave

"After Abortion, by Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, two women who had abortions in the 1970s, ...tries to avoid the political tug-of-war that tends to come with this turf. They concentrate instead on discussing the troubling personal effects of abortion on the mothers." ~ Eric Scheske, Godspy contributing editor, in NC Register's "Signs of Life in the Blogosphere", 2/2006

"Godbloggers could, in the best of worlds, become the new apologists...[including] laymen with day jobs: Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, for instance, at the blog After Abortion..."~ Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard online editor, in First Things's "God on the Internet", 12/2005

Amy Welborn, at BeliefNet, links to AfterAbortion blog's Crime & Abortion Series

Catholic News Service: Silent counterprotest at the March For Choice

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4,800 confidential groups helping now.

We are too. Here are folks who can help:

Feeling Really Bad?: Call
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
& a friend, right now.

Suicide Hope Lines: U.S.A. (by state) or call 1-800-Suicide (784-2433)

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UK, ROI: 08457 90 90 90 ,

Suicide Helplines in over 40 other countries

George & Linda Zallie, Stacy's parents, "assisting women who made the difficult choice of ending their pregnancy in finding nonjudgmental help" for suicidal feelings.

For immediate help, call tollfree, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: national, confidential, post-abortion-recovery hotlines:
1-877-HOPE-4-ME or
1-866-482-5433 or

...more help below...

"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion...[many are] aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and [do] not doubt that it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace...You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child..."

Hope after Abortion
Ideas for Healing
Rachel's Vineyard Retreats
(non-Christians, even non-religious do attend; they also have interdenominational retreats designed expressly for people of any religion or no religion)
Abortion Recovery
"Entering Canaan" - a ministry of reverence for women and men who suffer following an abortion
Lumina - Hope & Healing After Abortion
Option Line
Books that help
(includes non-religious Post Abortion recovery books)
In Our Midst
For MEN - Resources List
     ** UPDATED 2015 **

Message boards, chat rooms &
   e-groups ** UPDATED 2015 **

Regional & local resources
         ** UPDATED 2015 **

Silent No More Awareness Campaign
After Abortion
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Why NOT Hillary?

  1. Abortion Rhetoric Backpedal
  2. Chicago Tribune: "Our hero: Hillary Clinton, the last truth bender"
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Obama On Abortion: A Summary 1990-2009

1) Obama Is 2nd-Highest-Paid Politician by Fannie Mae, Taking $126,346 in only 4 years as Senator; Now Derides GOP/Bush for Allowing Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac To Do Business, When It Was Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter Who Passed The Law Requiring Fannie & Freddie To Give Out Bad Subprime Loans To Those Who Couldn't Afford Them, Which Caused The Entire Financial Meltdown … 2) Jim Johnson (Obama VEEP vetter and former Fannie Mae executive who made millions there) Backpedal … 3) Obama's hiring, connection, support of ACORN, which supported that very law and whose staff have been involved in voter fraud … 4) Rezko's Favor A "Boneheaded" Mistake … 5) Jeremiah Wright Backpedal … 6) Fr. Michael Fleger Backpedal … 7) NAFTA Backpedal … 8) Campaign Financing Backpedal … 9) Mr. "Negotiates-With-Terrorist-States" … 10) Bittergate … 11) Hamas' Chief Political Adviser Hopes BO Will Win Election … 12) Banning Handguns Backpedal … 13) Who Exactly Are "The Rich" He's Going to Sock it to? … 14) Flag Pin Backpedal … 15) Once Open to School Vouchers That Work, Now Deadset Against … 16) Now OK with residual force in Iraq...up to 50,000 troops. … 17) First voted against a law protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure, then lied saying he didn't, then finally forced to admit that he did vote to deny such born babies protection. 18) … "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." ~ MO

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