Abortion is one of the most polarizing issues in American politics, made even more toxic by the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade. It doesn’t need to be. Pro-life and pro-choice people should be able to agree on policies that would actually reduce the abortion rate. To accomplish that, though, opponents of abortion would have to bring themselves to vote for, and even run for office as, Democrats.
Republican-controlled state legislatures are racing to criminalize abortion, which may soon be largely illegal in most states. That won’t stop most abortions. We learned a lot about the effect of such restrictions from the Texas law that banned the procedure after six weeks –— a time when many women don’t even know that they are pregnant. The law reduced the state’s official abortion rate by 50 percent, but so many women managed to get abortions in other ways, with abortifacient pills or by traveling out of state, that the actual rate of abortion declined by only 10 percent. (The nationwide effect of the new state bans will likely be similarly small.)
With the end of Roe, the network of activists who help women evade these restrictions will become bigger and more sophisticated. Worldwide data show that the rate of abortion is not much different in countries that ban abortion…Read More
Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University, is the author of “Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed” (St. Martin’s Press, forthcoming). Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoppelman.