Abortion is Not the Reason for Lower Crime Rates Essay

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What is wrong with the ivory tower? The appointment of Peter ("Death to Disabled Newborns!") Singer to the bioethics faculty at Princeton University has generated considerable controversy. Recently, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and Stanford University Law School professor John Donohue III created a furor with their research paper "Legalized Abortion and Crime." The authors contend that legalized abortion fueled the drop in crime in the 1990s because a new subclass of humanity they've identified- "women most at risk to have children who would engage in criminal activity"-have higher abortion rates, thus preemptively executing the would-be felons. This subclass, we are told, is populated predominantly by women who are…show more content…
Levitt and Donohue that the whole thing was just a zany joke. Swift's "Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of the Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country ..." proposes to pay mothers for breeding and nursing their children. Poor mothers with many children would not then be forced to spend their days begging and could undertake some gainful employment. And infants would be sold at 12 months, after weaning, as a tasty delicacy for the gentry. The commonwealth would then be rid of children who might "turn thieves for want of work." Swift minutely calculates the monetary benefits to the nation, just as Donohue and Levitt tote up the ever so speculative savings from executing likely criminals in utero. Unfortunately, it appears that many people are accepting Levitt and Donohue's hypothesis as Revealed Truth (no matter that the paper is unpublished and not peer-reviewed). A few random observations about their methodology and assumptions may illuminate the paths which led them to error. First, the authors get one point right, but fail to draw out its obvious significance. They acknowledge that "legalizing abortion leads to an increase in the conception rate among women who do not want babies. ..." One recent study cited found the decline in birth rates due to

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