ROE v. WADE AND THE REDUCTION OF U.S. NATIONAL CRIME RATE
It is a great insult to our humanity when we decide what people can or cannot do to provide a better life for themselves.
Abortion is a highly controversial issue that is being actively talked about. Some people say that abortion is wrong because they consider it to be the killing of an unborn child. Others believe it is a woman’s right to choose, which is why abortion is one of those topics that people would rather avoid talking. It is indeed so not because of the act itself being morally ambiguous for some, but the reaction against the arguments generally fall into the “you’re a murderer” territory – and a discussion that ends in accusations is not a productive discussion at all. A colleague of mine whose work I have cited in the references page below mentions a lot about scary abortion procedures and how it is “despicable” to even think about the act of undoing the cells growing in a womb. As I have mentioned before, the debate on abortion is often divided into the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” groups without any middle ground for insightful comments, and since the two usually involve the power of beliefs, either religiously or constitutionally, I will not attempt to refute them. I will rather propose a thoughtful essay on why, instead of invoking the feelings of guilt, we should attempt to understand the reasoning as to why people choose to do abortions. I will use the Roe v. Wade ruling as a case study, with a focus on the reduction of crime rate.
Roe v. Wade was a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 on the legality of abortion, in which women are allowed to have abortions until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy without any interference by the government. The case involved an unmarried pregnant woman by the name of Norma McCorvey, whose Texas state laws prevented her from having an abortion. In her autobiography, she recounts her early life of growing with an abusive mother and time spent in juvenile prison as an adolescent. Similarly, her unsuccessful marriage to an abusive husband led her to wrestle with drugs and alcohol addiction, with her daughter given to relatives for care. Subsequent children of hers were given up for adoption while she herself had to wrestle with a decisively unmanageable life. Her background and the ruling were then brought upon by Steven Levitt in his book, Freakonomics, as the leading cause of crime rate reduction in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. He mentions a study that shows that the typical unwanted child would have been likely to live in poverty and would also be more likely to grow with just one parent. He claims that these two factors increase the likelihood of a child to commit crime; even more so if the mother was a teenager. Back to McCorvey, her children were indeed very lucky to have lived separate lives with their biological mother. The same cannot be said if McCorvey belonged in the Black or Hispanic communities, two minority groups in the U.S. who rank the highest in incarceration and crime rates. A significant portion of their communities live in poor, urban areas, whose living conditions would last through generations. “Living a successful life” for them would involve running illegal businesses and getting rid of rival gangs. Their children would have had criminal lives. And with that, a connection is made to how abortion helped decrease the crime rate in the 1990s, as stated in the paragraph below (Levitt, 2005: 139):
Some might say that people should place their child up for adoption instead of legalizing abortion, but the problem would still remain. Adoption just isn’t feasible in the long-term as the demand is not nearly as high as the supply, nor are there that many prospective couples to begin with. One should also consider the mother’s burden of having to withstand up to 9 months of pressure. To quote Levitt (2005: 138), when a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has good reasons: she may be unmarried or in a bad marriage. She may consider herself too poor to raise a child. She may think her life is too unstable or unhappy, or she may think that her alcohol intake or drug use will damage the baby’s health. She may believe that she is too young or hasn’t yet received enough education. She may want a child badly in a few years, but not now. For any of a hundred reasons, she may feel that she cannot provide a home environment that is conducive to raising a healthy and productive child.
Lastly, it’s safe to say that legalized abortion is indeed important, especially for those that live in poverty. If you’re someone that’s poor and living in an unsafe neighborhood, there is a big chance that a woman somewhere close has had unprotected sex or even raped at least once. Such cases oftentimes lead to unwanted pregnancy. Now let’s say that the woman is your partner, then consider the situation in which you are poor with a baby coming up. Abortion is deemed illegal in your country, so whether you like it or not, you have to support the baby. That might seem easy, but in reality, it could be hard. You may be unable to get a job because of either a) you belong in a minority group, in which prejudice is likely, and b) you are too poor to even find work. Even if you did find work, your living conditions – which includes the probable lack of education and meaningful connections – would not permit you to have a satisfying salary. So, you turn to crime life: rob stores, mug people, breaking into houses. That’s not even assuming the social stigma for the woman that may even lead to her ending her own life. Referring back to the Black and Hispanic communities, whose incarceration and crime rates rank the highest, their children would likely grow up with their parent(s) behind bars, and without any means to achieve a “good life”, it’s also likely for them to commit the same actions that led to their parents be brought to prison. Abortion serves as an option for these disenfranchised portions of the population to build a better life for themselves without the biological and material burden of supporting another. Furthermore, it would also be wrong to let children grow in a dysfunctional environment just to satisfy the needs of others to have the “moral superiority”. With my essay above, I hope I have presented an actual rational look at an emotional issue.
Levitt, S. (2005). Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, pp. 114-144. http://libgen.io/book/index.php?md5=5A4A374EC37E3EAFA48FF427B2A05789
Christian, E. (2018). When, Where, and Why You Can Kill Your Baby. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JtYxj-OBUxjyVZDNEcSkegPDiPhopD_d/view
“Roe v. Wade”. (2005). West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/law/court-cases/roe-v-wade
R. Moh. Hiu Dilangit Ramadhan Sasongkojati, Political Science 2016
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