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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

CRIME and ABORTION - Part 3 of the 5-Part Series

Upcoming topics include how one other major factor affected crime, one which was ignored by Freakonomics author Levitt and which may in fact have been a result of legalized abortion...Links to Parts One and Two.

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


Even if abortion indirectly was responsible for decreases in crime, then I could demand this corollary of my letter writer neighbor: "Are this country's state and federal governments, for the 130 or so years prior to Roe v. Wade when abortion was illegal, willing to face their indirect responsibility for the high level of crimes as well as their attendant ancillary expenses such as more prisons and higher taxes that surely existed pre-Roe? "

But the U.S. didn't have the same high crime, prison-crowding or tax rates in the years before abortion was legalized, as displayed in the Crime and Justice Atlas 2000 and its 2001 Update. The Justice Research and Statistics Association publishes the CJA, combining data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS; since the UCR didn’t exist until 1929) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

This historical analysis states:
The reported crime rate was fairly level during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, before sharply increasing until the early 1970s. Although the crime rate plateaued during the last quarter of the century, the rate has dropped and climbed by as much as 900 crimes per 100,000 population over the last 20 years. The United States is currently in the midst of the longest period of decline over the entire period shown, with a 1998 crime rate of 4,615 per 100,000 population, the lowest since 1973, when the rate was 4,155.
The chart (pp.36-37) gives more descriptive detail: the overall crime rate was fairly level (under 1,000 per 100,000 population) from 1933 to 1960 when it began rising (due in part to the fact that dollar limits for larceny were removed). Even after 1960, the crime rate remained below the 3,000 mark until 1968 when it spiked up, dropped some twice then climbed to its first peak in 1980. It then dropped slightly until 1984, but this would not have been due to abortion's effect yet. It then peaked again in 1991, in spite of abortion having removed 2 million 18 to 21 year olds from the population. The overall rate dropped again from 1992 through 1998 (the last year for which full-year murder data was available for their 2001 report).

[For the record, other BJS data shows that while the murder rate dropped 10% from 1998 to 1999 and stayed at that level through 2003, the number of murders also dipped but then rose again to near-1998 levels by 2003. Violent crime counts and rates dropped 10% and 16% respectively from '98-'03.]

Bottom line: for about thirty-five years prior to legalized abortion, the overall crime rate wasn't a huge crime statistic in need of abortion's "help" paring down.

Another noteworthy example is found in the murder rate remaining relatively under 6 per 100,000 population from 1945 through 1966, then jumping above 9 starting in 1972 and remaining at or near this level another ten years. For about twenty-seven years pre-Roe, murder wasn’t a huge crime statistic in need of "help" paring down.

Likewise, the drug arrest rate was under 200 per 100,000 from 1965 to 1970. Prior to the time of legalized abortion, the statistics seem to indicate that drugs were not a huge crime issue either.

Why did the numbers jump, and why do we find it comforting to allow abortion’s effect of now having lowered them (in murder’s case, down to a rate 6.2 per 100,000) to mask the real problem of why they rose in the first place? [murder numbers dropped 3.6 percent from 2003 to 2004, from 16,503 to 15,908 divided by 258 million total population and divided by 100,000 = 6.2 Murder Rate per 100,000 population].


How could we determine legalized abortion's full effect on crime rates? First, we need the number of abortions occurring annually.

Planned Parenthood’s research arm, Allan Guttmacher Institute, shows such data in "Source Presentation: Trends in Abortion in the United States, 1973-2002", in the chart "The annual number of legal abortions increased through the 1970s, leveled off in the 1980s and fell in the 1990s." Estimates for 1973-2002 in Table 1 of AGI's "Estimates of U.S. Abortion Incidence in 2001 and 2002" [Lawrence B. Finer, Stanley K. Henshaw, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, May 18, 2005]. These are augmented by data on the number of abortions performed in the years 1974, 1985, 1990, 2001 and 2002, from various CDC sources.

Using this data, we find, for example, that two million fewer 18 to 21 year olds existed in 1991: add the number of legal abortions from each year from 1970 (cohorts would have turned 21 in 1991) through 1973 (cohorts would have turned 18).

Some crime statistics indeed declined at times after abortion began winnowing down the U.S. population. There is no way I could cover all the proofs or disproofs in even a five-part column.

The following examples are not meant to prove unequivocally that this effect never existed. I don't pretend to be a statistician but propose that until those who are can thoroughly account for all factors affecting crime and population, I offer the layman's healthy skepticism of blanket assumptions.

While some crime rates did decline starting in 1992, there were several rates that did not decline but should have, it seems, were this "abortion/crime theory" accurate:

1) Had children legally aborted starting in 1973 instead lived, they would have begun turning 16 by 1989. Those legally aborted in 1970 would have turned 16 by 1986.

Thus, crime should have dropped steadily from 1989 on, possibly as early as 1986, and certainly past 1998, if abortion were having the theorized effect. Instead, it kept rising from 1985 through the year 1991 when there were 2 million fewer 18 to 21 year olds.

While overall crime rates peaked first in 1980, they peaked again in 1991 (at 5,898 per 100,000 population) when they should have been dropping for at least two years, under the abortion/crime theory.

Even just this month, Associated Press reported that the Human Rights Watch/Amnesty International report "The Rest of Their Lives: Life without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States" released October 12, 2005
found a surge in violent crime in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to tougher sentencing laws and a jump in the number of juveniles sent to prison for the rest of their lives.
If crime should have dropped steadily starting at the latest in 1989 due to abortion, why was it instead "surg[ing] in the late 1980s and early 1990s"?

2) "Based on two years of research and on an analysis of previously uncollected federal and state corrections data…through mid-2004," that same HRW/AI report and its press release give other pertinent facts:
  • Starting in the mid-1980s, the United States experienced a steep and troubling increase in violent crime, including violent crime by adolescents. In the ten years prior to 1986, the number of homicides committed with guns by offenders aged fourteen to seventeen remained around 965 homicides per year. The number then began a steady rise, peaking in 1994 at 3,337 homicides. Youth homicides then began to drop; by 2002, the number of youth homicides with guns was lower than in 1976. [Footnotes 20 and 21: The National Center for Juvenile Justice, "Juvenile Arrest Rates by Offense, Sex, and Race (1980-2002)," August 1, 2004, available online, accessed on: July 2, 2005. [21] James Alan Fox, "Homicide Trends in the United States: 2000 Update" (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, January 2003), available online, accessed on September 13, 2005. See also Franklin E. Zimring, American Youth Violence (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)]
  • 2,225 offenders now serve life without parole (LWOP) sentences in the U.S. for crimes committed under age 18; 16 percent of those were between 13 and 15 years old.
Combining information from that report and from Figure 3, "Historical Trends in Sentencing to Life without Parole" and Table 4, "Youth Murder Offenders and Youth Offenders Sentenced to Life without Parole," the murder-by-teens trend looks like this:

YEAR    #s        LWOP    # 13-18 y.o’s "lost" to abortion
1976       965            1               zero
1986       965          32              2 million
1990    2,234          65              5.8 million
1994    3,337        116             8.4 million
1996    2,021        152              9.2 million
2000    1,006          91              9.5 million
2002    under          72              9.5 million

Abortion can't be credited for "reducing" murder rates among people aged 13-18 when its effect on that population (8.4 million lost to abortion who would have been aged 13-18 in 1994) was among its largest, while that cohort's murder conviction rate was at its highest (3,337) that same year.

Tomorrow's fourth segment covers more spikes in crime when the abortion/crime theory says they shouldn’t have happened.

Links to all segments found here. 
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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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...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
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(non-Christians, even non-religious do attend; they also have interdenominational retreats designed expressly for people of any religion or no religion)
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"Entering Canaan" - a ministry of reverence for women and men who suffer following an abortion
Lumina - Hope & Healing After Abortion
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(includes non-religious Post Abortion recovery books)
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Why NOT Hillary?

  1. Abortion Rhetoric Backpedal
  2. Chicago Tribune: "Our hero: Hillary Clinton, the last truth bender"
  3. Rapper Timbaland's $800K and "Ho's" lyrics
  4. Criminal "fugitive", media-ignored Hsu
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  7. "I remember landing under sniper fire...we just ran with our heads down."...
  8. ...and other false claims on her Foreign Policy "chops"

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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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