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Fight the crime, not the cause

Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 18, 2008

I must disagree with Andrew Dreyfuss’s letter entitled “The pragmatically pro-life party” (April 17) for two reasons.

First, he claims that the free-market economic policies of someone like McCain would be bad for the poor, and, therefore, would cause abortion rates to increase. His evidence is that abortion rates decreased in the 1990s while education was being well-funded and interest rates on student loans were low. Well, as long as we’re going to start throwing around dubious correlations, I could point out that the 1990s was also the decade of NAFTA, welfare-reform, and conservative fiscal policy. Perhaps that era’s emphasis on economic growth, personal responsibility and increased economic opportunity were the real reason for the improved abortion statistics. Sorry, but when making an empirical argument you should give us something a little more rigorous than a mildly plausible story.

Secondly, I must point out that pro-lifers see abortion as a human rights issue. Sure, when making policies we should look at consequences, not just intentions. But would you really want to be the one arguing that: “I don’t want to outlaw slavery, but I do want to make the world such a wonderful place that no one would ever want to own a slave?” Or, “We shouldn’t outlaw rape, rather we should encourage men to find more constructive things to do with their time.”

If the government does not even protect the right to life, then it is failing on a most fundamental level.

Dreyfuss’s emphasis on getting at the root causes of abortion is admirable, but such a task may be more tricky than he thinks. It should be noted that attempts to fight the root causes of crime during the 1960s and 70s proved to be disastrous for the most part. Nonetheless, I do have some hopes that the “carrot” of increased social welfare spending could potentially be effective, but any serious plan to end abortion would also include the “stick” of punishing abortion doctors. Any candidates that refuse to protect the lives of the unborn with the force of law are, ultimately, not very good friends of the pro-life movement.

Gregory Barr


Knott Hall

April 17