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Study: Pro-life abortion laws helped save 32,000 children in first six months of 2023


The researchers involved in this finding don’t see it this way, but any legislative measure that saves lives rather than destroys them is a good thing.

A new study suggests that restrictions on abortion following Dobbs v. Jackson have led to the birth of around 32,000 babies who otherwise would have been killed.

The study was published Friday by the Institute of Labor Economics, and the research was conducted by three economists with Georgia Tech and Middlebury College. Ironically, the paper is written from the perspective that abortion restrictions harm women, particularly low-income and minority women, and portray the additional births as the loss of “reproductive autonomy.”

Caitlin Myers, one of the researchers, claimed, “This is an inequality story. Most people are getting out of ban states, one way or another, and more people in protected states are getting abortions. And at the same time, this shows something those data cannot show: There’s a significant minority of people in ban states that do get trapped.”

The study shows that in the first six months of 2023, the birth rate in some states with abortion restrictions actually increased by a large margin. States with bans on abortion (except in certain cases) and gestational age restrictions, such as six-week bans, saw an increase in their birth rate of an average of 2.3 percent. They estimate that in the first six months of 2023, 32,000 additional births took place in states with abortion restrictions, compared to those that allow abortion late into pregnancy.

The number of additional births in such states varied. The primary factor determining how much the state’s births increased was the distance to an out-of-state abortion clinic. Texas saw an increase of 5.1 percent in its birth rate, making it the state with the largest increase. When Texas is factored into the data, the average birth rate increased from 2.3 to 2.7 percent. The academics attribute this to the distance women in Texas have to travel to get an abortion, since Texas is so expansive and many of its border states also have restrictions on abortion.

They contrasted that with Missouri, noting that women in St. Louis, for example, only had to travel 2.2 miles to receive a legal abortion in Illinois. Missouri only saw a 0.4 percent increase in births.

The study also showed that border states which allow elective abortions had a surge in abortions, as many women were willing to travel to obtain one. Data also showed that there was an increase in overseas abortion pills being shipped to women in states with limitations on abortion.

The researchers claimed the pro-life laws harm women. “If the past foretells our present, the Dobbs decision will result in increases in unintended births and exacerbate economic inequality.” They wrote, “[t]he ability to control fertility” has helped lead to the economic advancement of women.

“The legalization of abortion in the early 1970s reduced births, particularly among young women, and forestalled ‘shotgun marriages’ that otherwise would have resulted from unintended pregnancies. In turn, access to legal abortion improved women’s health and increased women’s educational attainment, labor force participation, occupation prestige, and earnings,” they continued.

“Still, fifty years later, abortion remains common: In 2020, approximately 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion. At the time they seek abortions, 75 percent of patients are low-income, 59 percent have previously given birth, and 55 percent report a recent disruptive life event such as falling behind on the rent or losing a job.”

They argued, “Recent evidence suggests that diminished abortion access poses a risk to the health and financial stability of this vulnerable population.”

Not everyone agrees that the increase in births is a bad thing. Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, stated, “The insinuation of a lot of coverage of such data points is that it’s a bad thing for there to be more children welcomed in states with better laws than in states that fast-track abortion. It’s a triumph that pro-life policies result in lives saved.”

The researchers say the data is preliminary and it is unclear whether these numbers will continue to show an increase in births when the final statistics are analyzed.

Pragmatically speaking, this news should be met with joy as birth rates in developed nations are nosediving. The U.S. is no exception. From 2007 to 2022, the U.S. birth rate fell by 22 percent. The U.S. birth rate is so low, in fact, that our population will no longer be able to replace those who die, leading to a declining population.

Some warn that this could have terrible consequences for society. Demographic strategist Bradley Schurman claimed, “The population shift will have a calamitous effect on the economy, evidenced by what’s happening in rural America today, which is already experiencing rapid population aging and decline. No country in the world has increased its birth rates, leaving little hope for the U.S. to do so.”

There are more important reasons than practical ones to celebrate. Translating the study into plain language, the findings are this: States that restricted the murder of babies saved the lives of 32,000 children from being brutally murdered. That’s a good thing.

Most critically, though, every one of those babies is a human being made in the image of God. Each child is a gift, whether their parents planned on them or not. Many parents don’t feel prepared when they find out a baby is on the way. Sometimes, it isn’t the “right time” for a baby in a person’s life. Maybe the circumstances are challenging. That child is still a gift.

To every voter and every lawmaker who helped make this possible, you have helped to save the lives of 32,000 children. Keep voting. Keep working. Keep praying. And let us thank God for these beautiful lives.

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