The Roe Effect

James Taranto in today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the phenomenom of unintended consequences.

It is an interesting thesis. He states that every abortion that occurs today is one fewer voter in 18 years from now. The premise is that 40 million legal abortions have occurred in this country since 1973. Those abortions have occurred mainly among the secular, liberal population. It stands to reason that more pro-choice women have had abortions than pro-life women.

Because the number of abortions is skewed within a particular demographic, it means there are fewer voters in that demographic today then there would have been if those abortions had not occurred.

Compounding the GOP advantage is what I call the Roe effect. It is a statement of fact, not a moral judgment, to observe that every pregnancy aborted today results in one fewer eligible voter 18 years from now. More than 40 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States since 1973, and these are not randomly distributed across the population. Black women, for example, have a higher abortion ratio (percentage of pregnancies aborted) than Hispanic women, whose abortion ratio in turn is higher than that of non-Hispanic whites. Since blacks vote Democratic in far greater proportions than Hispanics, and whites are more Republican than Hispanics or blacks, ethnic disparities in abortion ratios would be sufficient to give the GOP a significant boost–surely enough to account for George W. Bush’s razor-thin Florida victory in 2000.
The Roe effect, however, refers specifically to the nexus between the practice of abortion and the politics of abortion. It seems self-evident that pro-choice women are more likely to have abortions than pro-life ones, and common sense suggests that children tend to gravitate toward their parents’ values. This would seem to ensure that Americans born after Roe v. Wade have a greater propensity to vote for the pro-life party–that is, Republican–than they otherwise would have.

The Roe effect would have made itself felt before post-Roe children even reached voting age. Children, after all, are counted in the population figures that determine states’ representation in Congress and the Electoral College. Thus, if the greater prevalence of abortion post-Roe affected statewide fertility patterns, the results would have begun showing up after the 1980 reapportionment–in the 1982 election for Congress, and the 1984 election for president.

The first post-Roe babies reached voting age in 1991, in time for the 1992 election. In 1992 the Roe effect would have been minimal, since it was limited to a small segment of the electorate (18- and 19-year-olds), who tend not to vote. The affected segment of the population grows with each election, ranging up to 23-year-olds in 1996, 27-year-olds in 2000, and 31-year-olds in 2004. The Roe effect is compounded over generations. Children who are never born do not have children or grandchildren.

Perhaps at some time in the future, conservatives will significantly outnumber liberals due to the “Roe Effect.”

One thought on “The Roe Effect

  1. that whole “opinion” hopes that those mothers who aborted did not have a child at a later time.We can only hope that those liberals all die out though, righteous conservatism works in every other country in the world!


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