Violent crime in the United States has been decreasing for 35 years, reaching its lowest level now in 2012.(30yr,35yr) Politicians claim greatness for having brought this about. Others claim that population aging or environmental degradation of testosterone have caused the 85% drop in rape since the 1970s. And capital punishment is supposed to be a deterrent. As of 2005, capital punishment convictions were up by about a factor of ten and executions by a factor of more than 100 since 1973. But it is also true that the big drop in crime started precisely 20 years after Roe v. Wade.(Abortion&Crime)
There can be no absolute proof about how much of this crime drop is due to the onset of availability of abortion in 1973, but the evidence sounds disturbingly convincing. Levitt & Donohoue's 1999 study found definitely more than just the general trend relationship that decline of violent crime started when those born in 1973 came of age in 1993. There were four additional correlations.
Age Group: The crime drop is due primarily to fewer crimes by people under 25.
Recipients: The women with the highest rates of abortion have also been the unmarrieds, teenagers and African Americans whose children are at greatest risk of committing crimes once they would become young adults.* Timing: Five states had made abortion legal three years before Roe v. Wade. The crime drop-off started earlier in these states.
Scale: States with especially high initial rates of abortion were also the ones with the highest rates of crime drop twenty years later.
Additoinal: A similarly careful statistical study is needed to examine trends since the Levitt & Donohoue study of 1999. Is there a correlation with funding for abortion? And perhaps notable are two events circa 2006. There was a slowing in the rate of drop of violent crime for a few years from about 33 to 35 years after Roe v. Wade. And 2006 was the year of US FDA approval for the morning after pill, perhaps another Roe v. Wade like event making abortion more available.
Serious societal issues are implied here. The US class structure is rather non-egalitarian with those on the bottom not infrequently born into disenfranchisement, lack of hope, psychological rejection and abuse, or with permanent physical and mental defects from fetal alcohol or drug exposure. The Levitt & Donohoue study seems to suggests that, while there may be other motivations as well, such as purely economic, women are not inclined to want to bear children into that kind of future. Abortion is used by Catholics more than any other group, but also significantly by women with limited financial resources who would have difficulty fostering another child.
And in addition to issues of social structure, there are also those of religion. From the science review given in this web site, theologic logic seems to suggest that sanctity is not likely to be attached to physical being at the time of fertilization or during the early embryo stage, but more likely sometime later. If so, there seems to be no religious reason to deny these women their wish. Some even argue that it might be sinful not to allow these women to abort before a soul becomes bound to a perhaps likely-to-be-condemned fetus.
It is not easy to be objective when trying to understand why crime is declining.
*Unwed mothers are, as a class, the ones most likely to have suffered sexual abuse when young, which means vestige symptoms in the adult that include pervasive irrational fears and emotional flatness punctuated with extreme outbursts. Abuse and emotional dysfunction tend to be trans-generational.
last updates 2006, 2012