“For anyone who opposes Trump but hesitates to vote Democrat because of the abortion issue, here’s some food for thought:
Neither party wants to see abortions increase. The difference is in strategy: the Republicans’ approach of “Make it illegal” vs. the Democrats’ approach of “make it unnecessary.” Which is more effective? The numbers speak for themselves.”
This trope rolls around every election cycle. The graphic below is pretty convincing, isn’t it? How should pro-life Catholics (the term should be redundant) respond to their kids and friends who throw this in their faces every four years?
Let’s deconstruct the argument in a Q & A format.
Q. Generally speaking, is it really true? Do abortions really decline more during Democratic presidencies than Republican?
A. No, not according to Snopes who label the assertion false:
“The claim that abortion rates fall under Democrats, while true, ignores the fact that rates have also continued to decline through Republican administrations as well.
The claim, then, that abortion rates (at least since their mid-1980s peak) have risen when Republicans have held the White House is therefore equally false. At most, one can argue that the rate of decline appeared to slow during the presidency of George W. Bush before increasing under President Barack Obama’s administration, but such an observation would be based on a comparison between only two administrations and would do nothing to demonstrate causation.”
Q. The chart above shows a nice decline during the Obama years compared to the George W. Bush years. So how do you explain that?
A. Most of the pro-life strides come at the state level. During Obama’s two terms, the Democrats suffered their largest drop of power since the Eisenhower years. When he came into power, his party controlled both chambers of 27 state legislatures, but only 13 when he left, including Iowa. In all they lost 816 state legislative seats, plus 13 Governorships.
Mr. Obama’s lack of coattails allowed pro-life representation to soar at the state level, resulting in a smorgasbord of life-saving legislation. In other words, any honest assessment of the data, as Snopes makes clear, needs to look at cause and effect, not just effect. The cause: more pro-life (Republican) legislators elected at state levels; the effect: a decline in human abortion.
Q. Progressive Catholics assert that “neither party wants to see abortions increase.” Is that accurate?
A. No. Democratic support groups encourage women to “shout their abortion,” even running billboards with those words. The doesn’t sound like a good way to decrease abortions, does it?
Nor do the Democrats’ reproductive policies. They call for an end to all regulations on abortion for an entire nine months of a pregnancy; they call for taxpayers to pay for it by a combination of ending the Hyde Amendment and passing Medicare for All; and they call for an end of the Mexico City policy, which prevents the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions in other countries.
Each of these policies, if enacted, will increase the quantity of abortions, not decrease it.
Q. Let’s look at the chart again. There was a huge drop in abortions during the Clinton administration. How do you explain that?
A. The data cited comes from the CDC, which is not reliable when it comes to abortion reporting. Even more, the state with the most abortions in the U.S., California, stopped reporting their numbers during the Clinton years. So of course numbers would drop: California isn’t included.
By the same token, Republicans won control of the House of Representative for the first time in 4 decades, and installed a conservative, pro-life Speaker in Newt Gingrich to counter President Clinton’s abortion sympathies.
Q. Are there any other reasons why abortion rates have been steadily dropping since the 80s?
A. Stricter abortion laws at the state level, as demonstrated above, have made a difference. But there’s been a change in attitude, too. Women have an opportunity to see their baby in the womb via ultrasounds. Something like 8 out 10 women who view an ultrasound decide not to abort. And pro-life groups like Iowans for LIFE have been educating women on healthy alternatives to abortion and on the sanctity of life. It has made a big difference.
Q. How accurate is abortion data?
A. Not as accurate as pro-lifers would like, because chemical abortions aren’t reported with the accuracy of surgical abortions.
Even the Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research group) admits that reporting on medical/chemical abortion is spotty. As the brick and mortar abortion businesses close, the abortion industry has found a new and innovative way to kill babies and harm women. Here in Iowa, the RU-486 abortion pill is now being delivered via the U.S. Postal Service.
Q. Does any of the above matter to progressive Catholic voters?
A. It should. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the means do not justify the ends:
1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.
Not only does the Democratic party want to eliminate state abortion regulations and have taxpayers pay for abortions, they insist upon removing conscience protections for Catholic doctors and nurses who do not want to participate in abortion procedures.
So to the question: do abortion rates drop under Democratic presidents? No, they don’t. They decline IN SPITE of them. And if the party has an opportunity to implement their more ‘progressive’ reproductive policies they now call for, look for a spike in human abortion, not the decline that we’re seeing during the current administration.