abortion & kids

Max Sawicky sawicky at epinet.org
Mon Nov 1 09:07:34 PST 1999

[This one's for all you "progressive" critics of abortion out there....] The Nation - November 15, 1999 ANTI-CHOICE, ANTI-CHILD Katha Pollitt . . . >>>

On the strength of this account, one basic approach of the study is problematic since it insists that a country that is anti-abortion must be social-democratic or liberal/activist in other respects for it to be considered "pro-child."

More important, as far as countries go in KP's account, we seem to compare rich with poor -- a second difficulty if spending is a gauge of pro-child'ness.

It's not clear from the account how such incommenasurables as legislation and spending are weighted to arrive at a summary statement (though it is possible this would not make a difference).

Most important, spending by state ought to take into account taxable resources by state. If I got a chance to look at the study, this is what I would look for. Given equal commitment to children, Mississippi and New York would not reasonably be expected to devote the same resources to kids in state budgets. They have different tax bases, prices, and other factors that would cause differences in spending. Another consideration is private charitable aid for children. For a state whose political culture is both anti-abortion and anti-government, that would be a logical compensating factor. This is not mentioned in the KP summary either. Another consideration is that state spending on kids is in some turmoil as welfare "reform" proceeds. The '96 bill has arguably unlocked state policy (and the results are not pretty). One could argue that these results reveal the truer nature of state sentiments regarding children. For instance, one of the most liberal states -- Wisconsin -- has become a leader in the new style of reforms.

>>>> . . . Empirical research is a wonderful thing.

Especially if you get the results you like. Then methodology doesn't matter.

Having said all this, I would not be surprized to see the basic finding hold up. It could be conceded that more often than not, the motive for opposing abortion is malign. That doesn't mean abortion is perfectly acceptable in all its incarnations. The other side is that the discussion could be taken to imply that "pro-choice states" display benevolence towards children in some absolute sense. But a quick look at the state of foster care in, say, D.C. or New York would dispel this illusion.


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