Donald Trump is reported to be facing the deepest crisis in his election campaign for the White House, following his comment that women should be punished for having an abortion.
The supposed ‘gaffe’ has reportedly produced a fierce backlash from both those on the left and also the right in politics.
Yet perhaps Donald Trump’s position may have inadvertently revealed a deeper problem with the abortion debate, in his possibly unplanned link between abortion and crime. His comment highlighted a psychological tendency for those on the right to be instinctively tough on crime or rule breaking.
But this predisposition may now be in conflict with how the political spectrum aligns itself on the abortion debate, given the latest research.
Generally those on the right tend to be anti-abortion or ‘pro-life’ while those on the left tend to be more ‘pro-choice.’
New research suggests that if political conservatives want to be consistently tough on crime, they should lean more to being pro-choice, as there is new evidence that a more lenient policy towards abortion has a significant impact on lowering crime rates in decades to come.
This dramatic and controversial theory was popularized by the best-selling book “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everythin,” by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner.
The basic contention was that allowing women to terminate more unwanted pregnancies reduced the number of unwanted children in the population. This group grew into prime candidates for committing more crime as they got older.
Research evidence has been presented – primarily from the USA – that in places where abortion is more available, the crime rates go down later. Just when those so-called unwanted children would be joining the criminal fraternity, so changes to laws on abortion are followed by corresponding alterations in crime rates.
Now a more recent study, using for the first time European data, finds support of this dramatic theory– that if you want to lower crime rates in your society, one key strategy is to be more liberal on terminations.
This newer study is entitled, “Abortion and crime: Cross-country evidence from Europe,” by economists at University of Strasbourg and the University of Grenoble in France.
The research by Abel Francois, Raul Magni-Berton, and Laurent Weill, used a sample of 16 Western European countries, especially the share of aborted adults, defined as the accumulation of aborted children in the past that would have become adults and found that abortion rates have a significant and negative impact on crime rates, specifically, homicide and theft.
The study, published in the academic journal International Review of Law and Economics found that, on average across Europe, an increase of 1% in the accumulation of abortions leads to a decrease of 0.18% in theft and 0.3% in the homicide rate.
This cross-country investigation across Europe, allowed an exploitation of the different dates of abortion legalization in Europe. Comparing when abortion was legalized allows, the authors of this newer study argue, to directly answer this basic question: does legalizing abortion reduce crime?
The authors point out that legalizing abortion is supposed to lead to lower future crime rates in two ways. First, it reduces the fertility rate, reducing the proportion of young males in the population, the group who are generally over represented among criminals.
But secondly, it changes the profile of the juvenile population, because, theoretically, mothers abort when they feel that they are unable to raise children under favorable conditions.