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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Silence and Race in Abortion

South Dakota is swiftly becoming a social experiment for all theories about abortion and society.

The Seattle Times this week released an excellent article that identifies the way abortion has become not an issue so much about a single procedure, but a miniature laboratory for running thought experiments about what produces good kids and bad.

That is, pro-choice advocates argue that bad kids are produced by society, and are the responsibility of wise lawmakers; conservatives argue that bad kids are a product of bad values, and that bad values are best fixed by a proper social attitude towards existential questions like human life.

Interwoven with each of these topics are flash-issues rarely noticed by most observers when talking simply about the Thomas Frank values vs reason split between Republicans and Democrats: abortion becomes an issue about eugenics, race, and responsibility.

Abortion becomes a way of talking about fraught racial politics that no right-thinking intellectual would raise in public for fear of wandering into marshy areas indeed.

Read the article to understand:

University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt co-authored a famous study that connected the sharp drop in crime during the 1990s to the 1973 Roe decision in 1973. Its thesis, covered in the best-selling book 'Freakonomics,' was the following: Unwanted children are more likely to suffer abuse and grow up to be criminals in adolescence. Legalized abortion led to fewer unwanted babies. Crime rates began to fall exactly 18 years after Roe.

Conservative columnists have called the theory morally repugnant and smelling of eugenics -- the idea that society should improve the human stock by limiting 'undesirables.' Many pro-choice liberals have given these notions a wide berth because of their racial implications.

-- The Seattle Times: Opinion: "South Dakota must live with its abortion-ban decision"

Thanks to John for the reference.


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