Abortion Support Data

from The Week, Why liberals should support banning late-term abortions by  Damon Linker

Flush from their sweeping victory in the fight for same-sex marriage, many liberals may be inclined to think things are going their way on every issue in the culture war. But that simply isn’t true about abortion. Yes, exactly half of the country calls itself ”pro-choice,” but when pollsters ask people their views broken down by trimester, the results look far more conflicted. While 61 percent think abortion should be legal during the first trimester (up to 12 weeks), that number drops all the way down to 27 percent during the second trimester (13-27 weeks), and it collapses to 14 percent (with a whopping 80 percent of Americans thinking the procedure should be illegal) during the third trimester (27-40 weeks).

The fact is that just six other nations in the world — and just one member of the EU (The Netherlands) — permit abortion-on-demand after 20 weeks. Aside from The Netherlands and Canada, the U.S. stands shoulder-to-shoulder with China, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam on this issue.


A Progressive Dilemma

John Stossel writes in Townhall, The War on Women:

Insurance companies still charge men more for car and life insurance. A survey of car insurance companies found that the cheapest policy for a woman cost 39 percent less than for a man. A 60-year-old woman pays 20 percent less than a man for a 10-year life insurance policy. Seventy-year-old women pay half as much as men.

That’s just math, too, because most women live longer than men and, despite the “woman-driver” stereotype, we men get into more car accidents.

I don’t hear activists complaining about men paying too much. The “victim” propaganda works only when women pay more.

The sexes are simply different. Yet government demands that colleges have gender-equal sports participation. It’s fine if dance and art groups are mostly women, but if athletic teams are too male, lawsuits follow.

Obama even cynically repeats the misleading claim that women make 77 cents for every dollar men make, although his own Department of Labor says the difference evaporates once you control for experience and other choices.


This probably the most dog eared chapter of the Progressive Playbook, likely originated from the opposition to abortion from some of the conservatives.  Here is a progressive dilemma: What if female fetuses were aborted at a higher rate than male fetuses?

How Roe v Wade Affected the Economy

Edward Conrad

Europe and Japan have parliamentary democracies where parties represent their share of the vote.  In the United States, it’s winner takes all.  This has distilled U.S. politics to a two party system, and that makes it easier for a large minority of voters- in this case, pro-investment tax cutters- to join forces with another large minority of voters- The Christian Right- to seize power.

Row (Row v Wade) might have had a minimal effect on U.S. politics were it not for the fact that Christian fundamentalists are a large enough portion of the country’s population to affect the outcome of an election.  Twenty five percent of U.S. voters identify themselves as evangelical Christians.  Prior to Roe v Wade, evangelical Christian voters were split 15 percent Democrat , 10 percent Republican.  (Many of the fundamentalists were African American who weighed the redistribution of income much heavier than abortion rights.)  When Reagan endorsed the pro-life movement, these percentages reversed.  Reagan combined the Christian Right with the pro-investment tax cutters to create a majority.  Pro-investment tax cutters maintained control of the party, selecting fiscally conservative but socially moderate presidential candidates like John McCain, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

This marriage of convenience between odd bedfellows- pro-choice fiscal conservatives with pro-life social conservatives- brought the larger pro-investment faction in this coalition to power.  Without the unique set of circumstances surrounding Roe, the United States would likely be in the same position politically as Europe and Japan with respect to the well-intended but misguided anti-business economic policies.  Instead lawmakers cut marginal tax rates from an astonishing 70 per cent prior to Roe to about 30% after Roe. They also left trade borders open and allowed labor redeployment costs to remain low.

From Unintended Consequences by Edward Conrad

HKO comment

Conrad notes that without the alliance of the fundamentalists it was unlikely that the sharp tax cutting that came under Reagan and served to advance our economy well beyond the Japanese and European,  would have obtained voter approval. This was critical to the United States avoiding the path that led Japan and Europe to stagnation.

There are those who contend the path toward Republican domination was strictly racist and was traceable to the Civil Rights Act.  This explanation doesn’t fit with recent history nor does it explain Jimmy Carter’s victory.  Yet many on the left find comfort in just describing the opposition as racist, thus avoiding any understanding of the either the economic policies or legitimate social differences.

Conrad’s explanation may underestimate the failure of Carter’s policies as ground breaking for Reagan’s policies, but the political power from this coalition is worth noting.

The Roe v Wade Tax Cut

Edward Conrad

A populist politician, whose objective is to redistribute income, seeks the highest tax rate possible on rich investors without losing 51 percent of the vote (or a few points more, perhaps, depending on the value of the margin of safety).  A smaller tax increase that wins more of the vote unnecessarily leaves money on the negotiating table.  Similarly, a politician aiming to lower taxes on rich investors seeks the largest tax cut that still capture 51 percent of the vote.

Nixon was the last Republican president before voters contested Roe.  Without the 15 percent bloc of evangelical Christian voters in his back pocket, Nixon had to assent to a 70 percent marginal tax rate to capture 51 percent of the vote.  Even then, he only won the election because of the unpopularity of the Viet Nam War.  Eisenhower only won by accepting a 90% marginal tax rate. Clinton was the first Democratic president in office after voters contested Roe.  With only 85 percent of the vote available to him, where 40 percent of that vote supported tax reduction, Clinton could only support marginal tax rates as high as 39 percent and still capture 51 percent of the vote.  With this 15 percent bloc of the evangelical Christians in his pocket, Reagan was able to lower marginal tax rates to 28% and still capture the election. Roe lowered the marginal tax rate from at least 39 percent- perhaps even 70 percent to 90 percent- to 29 percent to 34 percent.

Most pro-investment tax cutters are pro-choice. They endorse the pro-life agenda for no other reason than to bring their minority bloc of voters to power. Because of this endorsement, Republicans lose a small number of pro- investment tax cutters to the Democrats.

From Unintended Consequences by Edward Conrad

HKO comments

The political parties are merely coalitions with different interests that unite for a political goal.  Many will vote for the GOP who stand against their social platform, because they stand against the reckless Democratic handling of the economy more.  Depending on the the key issues at the time of the election these coalitions can shift, sometimes dramatically.

While this alliance has propelled a more fiscally sound policy forward, and in spite of the 2008 financial collapse, we remain on a sounder economic footing than Europe – it has come at the costs of some division within the GOP.  Like the issue of abortion, the current controversy over gay marriage will also serve to galvanize evangelicals, but I do not see that it changes the balance any more than has already existed.  This alliance still serves to limit tax increases.

The growing acceptance of the secure right to an abortion (with limitations) and the growing acceptance of gay marriage also provides a strong coalition partner to the Democratic Party.  The voters may tolerate the less progressive stand of the GOP on these issues if they see an advantage in their management of the economy.  If they can not distinguish a sharp difference on their economic policies then they will choose where they do see a difference and these social issues could hurt the GOP.

Abortion Politics

Americans cherish their rights yet we understand these rights have limits. Freedom of religion does not permit polygamy or animal sacrifice. Freedom of speech does not include public obscenity or hate speech.

The right to bear arms does not allow the unlimited choice of weapons for anyone to carry anywhere they choose.

When certain rights fanatics push their rights too far it causes a backlash. I respect the second amendment, but they went too far when they tried (in the Georgia legislature) to over ride property rights by trying to allow concealed carry even on property that the private owner prohibited, and pushed to allow concealed carry in public airports.

Such extreme promotion of rights without restrictions diminishes respect for those rights.

I believe this has happened in the arena of abortion rights.

The court ruling in Roe vs, Wade established a woman’s right to choose an abortion in the first trimester. That ruling became the defining moment for a woman’s right to determine her own fate, and be freed from the control of a male dominated power structure.

It has remained in bitter conflict as those who believe in the humanity of the unborn challenge the woman’s right to have sole determination of it’s (or his or her) fate. It has become the defining issue of the religious right as well.

Yet when the first trimester rights were stretched to include “partial birth” abortions, many saw this as infanticide. Progress in neonatology has removed any doubt of the humanity of the fetus in the last few months. How can it be a human being the day after it is born and any less the day before?

The extreme pushed even further when they debated a bill to withhold medical treatment for babies that survived an abortion. The development of a commonly accepted right, even developed under bitter compromise, to the extreme endangered its support.

The political fact of abortion is that it is supported by the majority, but like any other right, not without limits.

John Zogby’s polls show that 75% of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong yet the overwhelming majority also believes the government should not interfere in a woman’s decision on this matter. The majority are more nuanced than the extremists on either side. They would support a woman’s right if her life was in danger as a result or in the case of rape, or if the child had serious medical problems. But generally they believe this is a private decision; a very serious decision, but still a private one.

Because the majority of women and men support a woman’s right to choose, I have always thought that the strong prolife position was a loser for the Republicans, yet both McCain and Palin have established very strong pro life positions, stronger than any Republican has in recent memory, and they are well ahead in the polls. How can this be?

There are several possible explanations:
1. The extreme push into partial birth abortions has alienated some of the support from the moderates.
2. The removal of the stigma of single motherhood has made an abortion less socially necessary. Single motherhood in some segments of our culture is a right of passage.
3. Widespread birth control has also reduced the need and demand.
4. The abortion rights issue is just relatively less important in light of security and economic issues. It is less of a litmus test issue.
5. Prolife families procreate more. NOW is breeding itself out of existence.
6. If the candidates were closer together on the bigger issues then this debate would become a more important issue of differentiation. But the candidates are so far apart on the critical issues, that this one is less important.
7. There is a broader opposition to abortion. It is no longer limited to extreme right wing evangelical groups. Black leaders have opposed the focus on abortion in black neighborhoods as a form of social genocide and orthodox Jews and Muslims also oppose it. Catholics and Hispanics who are largely Catholic also weigh to the pro life side.

Given the tremendous shift on the issue of the last generation, it will be interesting to see its impact on the election. We remain strongly divided, but it may have less influence that we would ordinarily expect.