Wesley Smith has a thoughtful post on this toxic question.
The idea, I think, is that the fetuses who became medical waste would, but for being aborted, have become children raised in unstable homes and poor environments, leading many, thereafter, to commit crimes in disproportionate numbers. It has raised hackles, as well it should... So, did abortion reduce the crime rate? Who knows? Who cares? It really doesn’t matter–unless one thinks that we have to encourage “certain people” not to procreate as a means of reducing crime. If we go there, we are off a moral cliff that looks an awful lot like the old eugenics.I agree. The inference that a crime reduction caused by Roe is good is morally repugnant. Preemptive killing of undesirable populations is never ethical, even if it reduces crime, and the claim that it does reduce crime, irrespective of the truth or falsehood of the assertion, bestows an unwarranted luster on raw evil. Abortion is evil, and eugenic abortion is evil, perhaps on an even deeper level.
There are many arguments offered by both sides on the factual issue. Those who assert that Roe had no effect point out that the crime reduction by age cohorts is opposite what a Roe effect would predict. Crimes by older criminals declined sooner than crimes by younger criminals. In addition, the cohort of young teens born in the decade prior to Roe had lower crime rates (by a factor of 3) than the cohort born in the decade after Roe (the pruned cohort). Others disagreed. The debate continues.
The question, though, strikes me as easily answered, at least to a first approximation. If crime rates dropped because there were fewer criminals, then the number of criminals incarcerated should drop as well. But if the crime rates dropped because we incarcerated criminals, then the number of criminals incarcerated should rise. Although there are many subtleties that may come into play, it's a simple way to distinguish between fewer criminals versus more effective punishment.
The evidence of course is unequivocal-- there has been a marked increase in incarceration rate, that has corresponded more or less with the fall in crime. That is not what the Roe effect advocates would predict. The data suggests that we have less crime because we are more effective at getting criminals off the street.
More criminals in jail, less crime. Odd how that works.
Which reminds me of perhaps the dumbest (and funniest) article ever published in the New York Times. It's title:
Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates
It's author, Fox Butterfield, was... dumbfounded. He was quite seriously perplexed. Why would there be less crime when you have more criminals in jail?
Butterfield pondered the "paradox":
In seeking to explain the paradox of a falling crime rate but a rising prison population...
You can't make this stuff up.
Golly, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. This article was published on October 29, 2011.
There's a lot of comments there too, both pro and con, and they're all much more sensible than your asides.
Personally, I think that everyone has autonomy over what happens to his or her body. If a woman wants an abortion, then it's her decision, not yours or anyone else's.
It's a cute theory that you have, Mike, but it works only if you look at a fraction of the data. But if you extend the graphs back in time, the theory breaks down.ReplyDelete
If violent crime fell primarily because of a higher incarceration rate then there should be a clear correlation between the incarceration rate and the crime rates. The marked rise in homicides in the 1980s and early 90s should be accompanied by a drop in incarceration rates around the same period. Do we see that in the data? No. The incarceration rate has held steady from 1925 to 1975 (1 person out of 1000). It is now 5 times that. Are the current crime rates lower than they were in the early 1970s or 1960s? No. They are higher by a factor of 2 or more.
So I would not say that there is unequivocal evidence for your theory. Only if cherry-pick the data.
I don't care if it reduces crime. We don't kill people to reduce crime.ReplyDelete
Here's the left's solution to crime--kill the criminal class!
"I don't care if it reduces crime. We don't kill people to reduce crime."Delete
In several states, yes we do. It's called the death penalty.
The good doctor fails to take into account the public policy changes that lead to the increased incarceration rate in the first place. Three strikes laws, mandatory minimum sentences, tougher drug laws, and tougher parole conditions have all contributed to the incredible rise in incarceration. These public policy changes have swelled the number of people going to prison for non-violent crimes while the incarceration of violent criminals remained relatively constant.ReplyDelete
... the claim that [abortion] does reduce crime, irrespective of the truth or falsehood of the assertion, bestows an unwarranted luster on raw evil.ReplyDelete
Knowledge can be neither good nor evil. Only the use to which it is put can be good or evil.
The evidence of course is unequivocal-- there has been a marked increase in incarceration rate, that has corresponded more or less with the fall in crime.
Unequivocal? Then why is that, in the graphs you present, violent crime and imprisonment rates appear to be positively correlated from 1985-1991 while you would predict a negative correlation? Why is it that, as oleg has pointed out, the incarceration/violent crime correlation you assert does not match up with data prior to the 1980's? The answer is, of course, that the evidence is equivocal.
I don't doubt the plausibility that incarceration rate plays a role violent crime, but it would be dubious to claim that it unequivocally is the best explanation. And I don't think that was the claim of Donahue and Levitt regarding abortion and crime either (an effect which I have doubts about based on their statistical analysis).
There are statistical means by which scientists tease out the contribution of multiple variables to an outcome. I'm saying this only because some of the people who read (and write for) this blog may not be aware of that.
More criminals in jail, less crime. Odd how that works.
So does that mean it is good for the US to have highest recorded incarceration rate in the world? (Oh, please say yes. Please, please, please say yes. Oh irony, sweet delectable irony.)
Speaking of delicious irony, Mike's colleague David Klinghoffer at Discovery Institute describes the efforts of the late Chuck Colson:Delete
Promoting the concept of “restorative justice,” Colson godfathered into being several conservative coalitions that are now making real headway in reducing prison populations and changing penal codes in many states. For example, as documented by the Texas-based Right on Crime organization, in recent years the Lone Star State has cut crime rates while reducing its adult prison population by thousands, and the number of juveniles behind bars by more than 50%, by repealing draconian sentencing laws and increasing support for community-based corrections.
I suppose Egnor would not approve.
I just came here to mention the same thing. You saved me the trouble.
Klinghoffer and Colson, two of the most stinking-liberal pro-aborts I ever did see.