Ross Douthat’s Case for Abortion

Interesting data from Ross Douthat on the role played by abortion in generating more stable families and better outcomes in “blue” states:

[A] lot of the differences between “red” and “blue” family structures, as sketched in Naomi Cahn and June Carbone’s recent book, are driven by higher abortion rates in liberal states. And it really is striking, when you dig into the data, how much of the blue-state advantage in preventing teen births is made possible by abortion. Rhode Island’s teen pregnancy rate is identical to West Virginia’s, but West Virginia’s teen birth rate is 33 percent higher. California’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than Alabama’s, but California’s teen birth rate is 20 percent lower. Kentucky and Maryland have the same teen pregnancy rates, but Kentucky has almost 60 percent more teenage births. And so on …

Well of course Douthat doesn’t actually read that as a case for abortion. And if you sincerely believed that abortion was murder, this obviously wouldn’t carry much weight. But it’s relevant for a whole host of murky middle positions. Meanwhile, in reason years we’ve become unaccustomed to hearing full-throated defenses of legal abortion and the arguments we do hear are often legally-oriented arguments about rights rather than broader policy arguments about the widespread beneficial consequences of allowing women to make choices about the timing of when they raise kids.