Economic injustice leads to rising abortion under Bush
An independent study by an ethics professor and statistician at Fuller Theological Seminary finds that, contrary to popular belief, abortion has actually risen in the US during George W. Bush's presidency and that the increase is linked to greater economic inequality.
The survey is a direct challenge to the religious right, whose loud campaigns blame liberals, womenís groups and civil libertarians for what they have called "an abortion culture".
"Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have been reversed," said Glen Stassen, a leading evangelical divinity school professor.
Citing connections to rising unemployment and soaring healthcare costs, Stassen noted that "economic policy and abortion are not separate issues. They form one moral imperative."
Using data from the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Guttmacher Institute, and reporting by individual states, Stassen found that US abortion rates declined 17.4% in the 1990s to a 24-year low when Bush took office.
Many expected that downward trend to continue under the conservative president, but Stassen found the opposite: 52,000 more abortions occurred in 2002 than would have been expected under the pre-2000 conditions, and abortion has risen significantly in those states reporting multi-year abortion statistics.
Responding to Stassen's study, Sojourners magazine editor Jim Wallis stated, "We have seen once again in this campaign the issue of abortion used as a partisan wedge rather than having a serious discussion on how to act to reduce the number of abortions."
Stassen's study found credible linkages between economic hardship and abortion. Two-thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child; half of women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate and co-breadwinner; and women of childbearing age are over-represented in the 5.2 million additional persons without health coverage since 2000.
"If we are to be truly pro-life, we must focus on real people and the conditions that lead women to seek abortions," said Wallis. "Jobs, healthcare, and a living income must be part of a pro-life agenda."
The religious right have declared that abortion is simply a matter of moral laxity, and that their attempts to ban terminations, intimidate doctors and blame women are the solution. The new evidence suggests they are not.