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Imagine being raised in a home where education wasn’t encouraged. Imagine being truant from elementary school because your parents regularly abused drugs and weren’t there to take you to school. Would you be where you are today? Where do you think you would be?
Here’s another question that may seem unrelated. Why did crime drop drastically in the early 1990’s? According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from its peak in 1991, violent crime fell roughly 34 percent by 2001. The rate of homicide – one of the most studied and arguably the most serious crime there is – fell massively. Over a slightly longer period, homicide rates per capita fell 44%, almost being halved.
So we are left with the question, why? Such a massive decrease in crime affects all of us, even if it happened in the 1990’s. If a crime had continued to rise at the same rate, we’d live in a dramatically different world today. Understanding why this happened provides us with a crucial understanding of how the world works.
Perhaps the answer lies in one of the biggest and oldest moral dilemmas of modern times. A paper written by Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago and John Donohue of Yale University titled “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime” in 2001 revived the idea that legalized abortion has an effect on reduced crime. The main argument behind it is that after the legalization of abortion took place in 1973, crime fell sharply 18 to 22 years later in the 1992-1995 period.
Think about it. Males in the 18-24 age range are those most likely to commit crimes, and 18 to 24 years after abortion was legalized, crime fell drastically. See a connection?
While this is a glaring indicator that there is a connection, it is not the only one. States that legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade experienced declines in crime before other states. On top of that, states that had higher abortion rates in the mid-1970’s had steeper declines in crime.
These aren’t the only factors that contribute to the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis. Unwanted children, such as those that were born to people denied abortions, are more likely to suffer from neglect and abuse or to be abandoned. These children are more likely to eventually drop out of school, join gangs, and commit crimes or be incarcerated. Bringing a child into a family that is unable or unready to provide for it increases the child’s likelihood to exhibit delinquent behavior.
The purpose of studying the link between abortion and crime isn’t to advocate abortion, or to hail it as a crime-fighting tool, but to instead understand trends in crime, and, ultimately, how the world works. In studying this, we can discover why people commit crimes, what affects crime rates, and the effects of abortion on society. The abortion debate is, and always should be, one of the moral values.