August 18, 2020

If You’re Pro-Life, Vote Democrat

Introduction

As a Christian teenager, I was well trained that Christians must be “pro-life”, a.k.a. anti-abortion and Republican.  I joined the Bound4Life rallies, pledged to wear the bracelet until abortion was ended, and voted single issue against abortion.  However, as I began looking into which party was actually doing a better job of reducing abortions, I had a starting realization.  I initially wrote this blog on October 30, 2016.  I’ve refreshed it as of August 17, 2020 with more recent data, but, remarkably, the trends are exactly the same.  Read on for a thought provoking discussion on how we actually reduce abortions in America.

Which Party Actually Reduces Abortions?

Abortions in America are measured three ways.  The following chart (from Snopes.com using CDC data) shows abortions per 1000 live births and abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years old.  When the president is a Republican, the line is red, when the president is a Democrat, the line is blue.  Note that the data in the chart only goes to 2012, but the data in the paragraphs below goes to 2016. In the numbers below, I reference a third stat as well, sheer number of aborted babies per year.

Abortion in the United States

Abortion was legalized nationwide by Roe v Wade in 1973.  From then until 1980, all measurements increased.  They then stabilized until the mid 90s when they began falling rapidly.  Since then, the CDC has released data for Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama.  The CDC’s data is delayed several years, so Trump’s data is not out yet.  Below, I review the data for Clinton George W. Bush, and Obama in detail.

Bill Clinton

During the Clinton years (1993-2000) the abortion rate (abortions per thousand women 15-44 years old) went from 23 to 16 (30% decrease). The abortion ratio (abortions per 1000 live births) went from 321 to 246 (23% decrease). In actual numbers of abortions it went from 1,330,414 to 857,475 (36% decrease). So, depending on which metric you use, Clinton saw a 23-36% decrease in abortions.

George W. Bush

Contrast this to George W Bush (8 years 2001-2008). The abortion rate went from 16 to 15.6 (2.5% decrease). The abortion ratio went from 246 to 234 (5% decrease). In actual numbers it went from 853,485 to 825,564 (3%) decrease. So, depending on which metric you use, George W. Bush saw a 2.5-5% decrease in abortions.  That’s 1/8th the rate that Clinton had.  By the way, the GOP had control of the House for 6 of these years and the Senate for 4.  So, for 4 years (2003-2007), the GOP had control of the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court (http://bit.ly/2f6TmDY).  So, they should have had sufficient control to implement whatever they wanted to.

Barack Obama

Now, you’re probably saying that’s because we hit a floor after the Clinton years. Not so fast. The last year reported by the CDC is 2016. This is end of Obama’s time in office. During these 8 years (2009-2016), the rate went from 14.9 to 11.6 (22% decrease), the ratio went from 227 to 186 (18% decrease),  and the number of abortions went from 789,217 to 623,471 (21% decrease). So, Obama saw a decrease of 18-22% depending on the metric. Not as good as Clinton, but still over 4X the improvement that Bush was able to achieve.

Source

All the statistics on annual abortions counts are available at http://bit.ly/1MOhtBA.  You can also pull them straight from the CDC website (there’s a link next to each year).

How is it possible?

Now you’re probably wondering what it is that Democrats are actually doing that would cause a decrease in abortion.  Essentially the number of annual abortions can be expressed in a rather simple formula:

U x P = A.
U = Annual unwanted pregnancies.
P = Percentage of unwanted pregnancies terminated.
A = Final count of abortions that year.

You’ll likely remember from pre-algebra that to decrease A you can either decrease U or P.

U is a factor of birth control, illicit sex, safe living environment, poverty level, etc. These factor into whether a pregnancy is unwanted.

P has basically three factors (P1, P2, P3):

  1. What alternatives to abortion are available and how acceptable are they.
  2. Is abortion safe, legal, and accessible.
  3. Does the mother have a moral or religious prohibition against abortion.

Republican Platform

When you look at this formula and look at where the Christian right has focused, it’s largely in P2. We’ve also tried to influence P3 but have been largely ineffectual (http://bit.ly/1N4kseA). The abortion rates among church goers are quite high. A small group have worked on P1 in the form of crisis pregnancy centers, etc. However, the push each election year by the pro life movement is to elect someone who will impact P2.  However, by making this push every year, we alienate the very people we claim to be loving, by saying that we want to punish them.

Democratic Platform

Now contrast the democrats. Most still think abortion is a very bad thing and should be reduced. However being pro choice means they won’t attempt to change P2 or P3 to reduce abortions. However some have pushed hard on P1 by advocating for adoption. Additionally much of the Democratic agenda is about U. Here are a few examples of how the Democrats focus on U:

  • Increasing access to contraceptives, pre/intra/post-natal care, and healthcare in general for mothers and children via Title X, ACA, etc.
  • Ensuring everyone has access to food and housing via social safety net programs.
  • Fighting for equitable treatment of women and children regardless of race, country of origin, etc.

This is why Democratic presidents have presided over much more significant decreases in abortions than Republicans. U is an easier part of the formula to impact. Additionally, if you aren’t pushing hard on P2, a pregnant girl will be more likely to come to you for advice because they don’t feel they will be judged.

2016’s DNC platform was dubbed the “most liberal ever” and it’s been pointed out that they removed “rare” from the “safe, legal, rare” mantra.  However, in 2016, they were still are talking about ways to reduce abortion (http://bit.ly/29YL9Vu):

We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors. We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

Jesus’ Parable

The abortion debate reminds me of Jesus’ parable of two sons found in Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV):

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

When we needed leadership to decrease and/or eliminate abortion, the Republicans stepped up and said “we will” and gathered the Christians behind them.  However, they have accomplished almost nothing.  Christians however, have continued to pledge allegiance to the Republicans.  Thankfully, some Christians have also worked on the other levers as well.

The Democrats however, said “we will not” but proceeded to take actions to reduce the number of abortions, and have been very successful in doing so.  So, if you are going to single issue vote on abortion, and your real goal is to decrease the number of annual abortions, vote Democrat. If your only goal is to change the laws of the land (which likely won’t occur under either president), and you don’t actually care how many babies are aborted, then vote Republican.

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10 comments

  1. Sandra Pisarski says:

    awesome. so true. vote democrat because at least they try to help in every way possible to stop abortions. Trump had control of the Senate, House AND Presidency…they did NOT over turn RvW. They really did nothing. Republicans acutally, make it harder to LIVE WITH CHILD, os thus people abort because there is no help. If there is birth control available there are less abortions, if people don’t feel desperate there are less abortions, if people feel cared for there are less abortions. All republicans do is make people feel bad…they already feel bad if they feel they need to abort to survive! Be helpful. Don’t be hurtful. THAT is how you reduce the need to abort.

    1. Loren D'Amico says:

      Thanks for stopping by Sandra and for your comments. I was amazed to see the difference in results from these two approaches when I first started looking at the data. You’re right though, it just makes sense.

  2. Matt Wichman says:

    “Non-Partisan” huh?

    Abortion rates have been dropping steadily for decades due to an increase of contraceptive availability but also due to a change in people’s moral world view.

    The idea that the entire bases for voting Democrat is because of a graph relating to the President is absurd. Aside from picking Supreme Court Justices abortion goes well beyond one person, even the president.

    The Dems have been minimizing the evils of abortion now more than ever before. Shout your abortion, removing “rare” from their abortion stance, and openly discussing infanticide. They are attempting to corrode away the moral stance against abortion. This same moral stance accounts for a change in the rate in which mothers keep unwanted pregnancies. Currently mothers of unwanted pregnancies are 12% more likely to keep their child then they were Just 10 years ago. This is because conservatives have been winning the war of moral perception, but the “shout your abortion” Dems want to change that.”

    The Supreme Court is one or two justices away from a potential major ruling that could greatly limit abortion. The heartbeat law or one like it will make its way to the Supreme Court in the next few years. The president chooses those justices. Don’t underplay that.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My concern is if what your heart desires happens, then support for abortion will skyrocket as it did when Alabama and Missouri passed their laws last year which severely limited abortion. Support for abortion itself shot up and support for later term abortions also climbed. The problem with the evangelical mindset is the attempt to pass the law isn’t bringing on the desired outcome of less abortions or less support for abortion, but it is wrecking the ability of the Church to share the Gospel and have a voice in culture. One stat that’s inarguable is that millennials aren’t coming to our churches anymore, in great part because of the partisanship our Christianity has taken on and the political purity test we now require of our attendees to predominantly white evangelical churches.

      One other note, South Korea just overturned their prohibition of abortion because they found that South Koreans had more abortions per capita, with the law, than Americans did without it. Only problem, only the wealthy South Koreans could get safe, illegal abortions. The poor were forced to go much riskier routes. In the end, the law did not lessen the desire for abortion in the very Christian nation of South Korea.

      The question I have is this: Is the evangelical desire to criminalize women who have abortions really about life? Or is it about winning a political battle and the belief that somehow God will put us in power over the country if we win this battle for a law? And if we’re truly “pro-life” are we uncomfortable that the U.S. has killed over 180,000 Iraqi civilians over the past 20 years in a war we went into under false pretenses to remove a dictator we put in power and propped up with our military and financial support for many years? Or does our responsibility for “life” begin at conception and end when the umbilical cord is cut?

      I believe God has a plan to reduce unwanted pregnancies in America, but perhaps we’re too busy trying to criminalize people and win political victories to stop and have eyes to see and ears hear, as the leaven of the Pharisees has taken root in our churches for the past few decades. Perhaps our worship of the Supreme Court ought to be turned back to the Supreme Being?

      Jesus and the writers of the New Testament never once said “here’s a biblical concept, now go codify that into civil law to force people to behave in a Christian manner. But Jesus did say “Blessed are the meek, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers to be able to inherit the Kingdom.” The Bible does say the government would “rest upon his shoulders and to the increase of it there would be no end.” Maybe our trust in our “horses and chariots” is the very thing tearing this country apart. Have we lost all faith that God is big enough to bring his reign over the earth without any help from us at all? Maybe if we just stop and listen instead of yelling so much all the time…

      1. Matt Wichman says:

        The Iraq deflection is pretty meaningless, most Republicans today look back on the war in Iraq and say it was a mistake and most Dems back then voted for it.

        South Korea doesn’t have the same ability to enforce the law that we have here.

        Yes illegal abortions can be more dangerous and it’s hard to enforce a truly prolife position, but abortion is murder in every respect. This isn’t equivalent to making homosexual acts, sex outside of marriage or even living together before marriage illegal. Those would be laws of theocracy and our government has no place in limiting liberty or the ability to make bad moral choices if they have no effect on others. I don’t even think seatbelt laws should exist… However, laws that protect the liberty and freedom of the innocent are essential. Murder should never be legal.

        These young mothers-to-be are brainwashed by our liberal media and liberal education system to think there is nothing immoral about abortion. I would never institute a law that punished them, but instead laws should be put in place to punish those that prey off of them. That’s why abortion doctors should face criminal charges, they betray their mantra “do no harm.” Most Republicans feel the same way in this issue.

        The left’s goal with abortion has always been population control. Keep poor minorities in check so they can’t rise up and have a more powerful voice in politics. Take away their school choice, push abortion on them and keep them in a never ending cycle of social programs and poverty in the inner city while harvesting their votes and claiming they’re champions of their cause. Margret Sanger was a known racist eugenesist.

        Finally, a complete ban on abortion is not what I would propose, not initially, not until the hearts and minds of our citizens change. A heartbeat law is far more reasonable. 8-9 weeks is plenty of time to determine if you’re pregnant and to take the proper steps especially with the abortion pill readily available. This takes away the “oops” defense of abortion and greatly weakens the bodily autonomy defense (because at 8-9 weeks the babies body more clearly has its own autonomy).

      2. Matt Wichman says:

        Also, the idea that the church shouldn’t get directly involved in such things legislatively is absurd when you put up the proper context.

        The abortion Industry is committing the equivalent of a Holocaust every 5 years in our country. If we were in 1940s Germany and Jews were being marched down an assembly line of death would you recommend we sit back and try to win the hearts and souls of the Nazis without ever trying to stand against them in any way we could? If Nazi Germany had a free election would you recommend that we don’t vote for the party trying to end the Holocaust because they’ve been unsuccessful so far and it’s better to just give in because if we give in to the Nazi worldview less will die since there’s no resistance?

        I will always stand up against murder and the government’s job is to protect life and liberty, every abortion that occurs is our government’s failure to do just that.

  3. A concerned observer says:

    Loren, are you aware that the snopes.com article that you took your graph from actually makes a strong argument against your conclusion? https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/abortion-rates-presidencies/?fbclid=IwAR29eXomn-EqRLkgmeS8Lri2iwjHZh-HAjoh3Ph1ugVhojXvJ3KPW4vR66I

    Perhaps add the link to the article if you want to use the graph to make your argument. This would give readers more pertinent information to come to their own conclusions.

    1. Loren D'Amico says:

      In what sense do you feel like the articles makes a strong argument against my conclusion? They seem to be simply saying they’re a lot of factors and they aren’t sure what factors are impacting abortion rates. However, it’s certainly clear there’s a correlation between more rapidly falling abortion rates and democrats. I’m proposing that it’s actually a causation.

      1. Matt Wichman says:

        You argue that Democrats have been reducing U by helping fight against poverty, illicit sex, and providing birth control and a safe living environment.

        The Dems have been in complete control of the biggest poverty stricken areas of our country for decades or longer and have done little to positively influence those areas.

        They also promote sexual freedom and promiscuity as healthy and freeing. This line of thinking lead to the AIDS epidemic. They are targeting children for education about masterbation , and if that prevents unwanted pregnancies then God help us I’d rather have more unwanted pregnancies…

        The one thing Dems are good at is providing birth control but the Republicans have warmed to that too more recently.

        “Safe living environment” must be a joke if you’re voting Democrat. They’re promoting riots in the streets and defunding the police departments.

        So at the end of the day
        almost everything you provided with regards to reasons the Dems are reducing unwanted pregnancies seems to be things they are bad at…

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