Abortion and Crime

August 16, 1999

By now you have probably heard about the study linking abortion and a decrease in the crime rate. And you have probably heard criticism from both liberals and conservatives about the study. Let me for a minute try to cut through some of the rhetoric.

Two respected scholars looking for reasons why the crime rate has dropped found a strong correlation with the abortion rate. They found that the timing of the crime drop of the 1990s coincides with the period roughly 20 years after the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. Children who would have been born in the pregnancies had they not been aborted would have been ages 18 to 24 in this decade.

They also found that five states that legalized abortion in the three years before the Supreme Court decision experienced drops in property crimes, violent crimes, and murder before other states. They also found that places with high abortion rates in the 1970s experienced greater drops in the crime rate in the 1990s, even when accounting for a wide range of forces that influence crime, such as income, racial composition and incarceration levels.

They conclude from the data that legalized abortion may explain as much as half of the overall crime reduction. Reaction to the study has been predictable. Liberals call it racist while conservatives say itís merely an attempt to justify abortion. Frankly, I think the study deserves more scrutiny and less name-calling. These are respected scholars who were tracing down reasons for a drop in crime in the 1990s. If the study is valid, then the pro-life community needs to think through the implications of the research and consider its impact on making a case against abortion.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.

© 1999 Probe Ministries International