Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Orson Scott Card on “Freakonomics”

Posted in abortion by Kathy on March 19, 2008

First, my thanks to “Journey to Ithaki” for brining this insightful essay to my attention by posting it on her blog.

Mr. Card discusses the book Freakonomics and particularly the abortion question. I wrote about this in an earlier post, but had to bring it up again in light of this essay. The main point of the essay is (as the subtitle puts it) “You have to find the facts before you can face them.” He mentions those who make up “facts” or rely on shoddy data or studies to make their point, and everybody assumes that somebody else has verified the facts, when the truth is that most people (including journalists) will rely on the assumed truth of the person quoting the “fact.”

On to specifics about this essay–what I found most interesting. As I wrote before, the book Freakonomics shows that the crime increase of the 70s and 8os was assumed to keep going up into the 90s, but that crime across the nation dropped. Not only that, but areas or states that had legalized abortion prior to the Roe v. Wade decision had lower crime rates earlier than the nation. Basically, about 18-20 years after abortion was legalized, these babies who were not born did not commit any crimes, and crime rates fell. But the author takes it one step further: why were crime rates so high in the first place? He points out that it wasn’t just teenagers being teenagers–because if that were the case, the Baby Boomer teens should have made crime rates jump, but they didn’t. He theorizes that it was the post-Boom, post-“New Morality” but pre-Roe children were the ones who caused the crime wave in the first place. The throwing off of social restraints, and especially the lessening of the stigma of being an unwed mother, the increase in viewing promiscuity and premarital sex as normal (even inevitable), led to an increase in the rates of pregnancy among the people who embraced “the New Morality”. Most people who rejected it, though, were also more likely to be in stable relationships, to train their children to be good, honest, decent, moral citizens, to be responsible and faithful to their spouses, etc. Makes sense to me.

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