Abortion and Crime – When Political Correctness and Partisan Politics Gets in the Way of Promising Research and Policy

There’s an article from National Review going viral, reviving an almost two-decade old debate about the prophylactic effects of abortion on crime, originally brought to the public’s attention in the 2005 bestseller Freakonomics.

Mona Charen writes:

Some would have grown up to be Ben Carsons, Charlize Therons, Walt Disneys, Oprah Winfreys, and Sonia Sotomayors. Most would be happy to be alive.

But 99.999% won’t, and something that isn’t sentient cannot ‘perceive the happiness’ of being alive. And do we want more Oprahs and Sotomayers? I sure as hell don’t. (I’ll take more Therons though) The idea of ‘aborting away’ our crime and entitlement spending problem holds some promise, as evidenced by the well-established research connecting crime and low incomes with low IQs. A 2004 meta-analysis of reports in Current Directions in Psychological Science gave an overall estimate of statistical significance for the heritability of IQ of around .85 for 18-year-olds and older. The general figure for heritability of IQ is about 0.5 across multiple studies in varying populations. Ergo, if IQ is heritable then so, to some extent, is poverty and crime.

From Jonathan Gruber’s 1998 study

…for the marginal child not born due to increased abortion access, the odds of living in a single parent family would have been roughly 70 percent higher, the odds of living in poverty nearly 40 percent higher, the odds of welfare receipt 50 percent higher.”… “From these results, we estimate that the legalization of abortion saved the federal government over $14 billion in welfare payments through 1994.”

And they would have all been Democratic voters and cost tax payers billions in entitlement spending.

Then it shouldn’t come as much surprise that the strongest criticism of Donohue and Levitt’s landmark 2000 study The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime was from the left, not the right. The left suddenly became anti-science creationists when the research produced results that were an affront to their cherished beliefs in the perfectibility of man. The left wants to believe that everyone, with enough wasteful govt. spending, has the equal capacity to be exceptional when, to the contrary, biological factors such as IQ play a much bigger role in individual success and explains why costly programs to raise national test scores, such as common core, are doomed to failure. Instead of wasting resources trying to produce equal outcomes, we need to devote more resources, such as a high-IQ basic income, for those biologically preordained to succeed. That way we can allow the future Ben Carsons to fulfill their true cognitive potential.

It’s too bad we see instances of ‘the right’ like Steve Sailer and the author of aforementioned National Review article, Mona Charen, giving intellectual fodder to the welfare left on this issue. The GOP is supposed to be the party that is tough on entitlement spending and crime, and here we have Jonathan Gruber, who happens to identify as Democratic, proposing a solution based on actual research and evidence instead of partisan wishful thinking. Even if these studies have some holes, the research holds much promise in stemming some of biggest and most persistent problems plaguing society: poverty, crime and entitlement spending. For those who are opposed to abortion on political grounds, a step in the right direction would be to at least make birth control more readily available for populations at risk for entitlement spending and crime. The right needs to get over Sangerism and understand that, yes, while she did create planned parenthood, that contra Sanger, the left supports birth control and abortion not to make society better, but because of a lack of self-control. We shouldn’t let partisan/sentimental nostrums ‘all abortion is bad’ or ‘all life is precious’ overshadow potentially good policy.

Related: Could Republicans Endorse Eugenics?