Striking down Roe v. Wade reversed an unconstitutional abomination and sent the issue back to the states. And, despite various hysterical leftist claims that it would prevent women from getting abortions who really need them, it doesn’t seem to have done much to reduce the number of abortions. And that’s not surprising. Anyone who really wanted an abortion could get on a bus or plane, and pro-abortion groups began funding such trips. So the numbers are in and, assuming you trust them, not all that much has changed.
Legal abortions most likely increased in the United States in the first six months of the year compared with 2020, an analysis of new estimates shows, as states with more permissive abortion laws absorbed patients traveling from those with bans and access to abortion pills via telemedicine continued to expand.
2020 is not the best baseline for comparison, and the Guttmacher numbers don’t match the CDC ones, but crucially the CDC numbers don’t show a massive drop between 2019 and 2020. Whether or not the number of abortions rose, it’s probably reasonable to assume that there weren’t major changes in the big picture.
In Illinois, for example, where abortion is legal, abortions rose an estimated 69 percent in 2023 compared with the same period in 2020, to about 45,000 from 26,000. Other states with restrictive neighbors, like Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and South Carolina, also had jumps in estimated counts of abortions.
Whatever data you use, abortions overall have been falling over time. But that has less to do with growing morality than changing demographics and decreased relationships in general. There’s a decline in pregnancies, marriage rates, socialization, sex, and abortions.
Once Roe v. Wade was struck down, a political battle broke out. The data here shoots down the Left’s claim that no one can get abortions anymore. People in red states are just traveling a bit. On the other hand, it strengthens the argument by some on the pro-life side that a national abortion ban is needed. And that’s a debate that has shown up in the GOP primary campaign. A lot of Republicans claimed that striking down Roe v. Wade cost Republicans the midterms. It probably didn’t help, but statistics showed that people actually identify now as more socially conservative. Roe v. Wade helped turn out a fanatical part of the base, but I doubt it was the deciding factor.
The trouble, as with most issues, is where does the line get drawn? There are those on the pro-life side who would also like to ban all forms of contraception, many kinds of fertility treatments, and a whole lot of other things. They don’t represent the majority of the pro-life movement, but they are pretty vocal.
My own thought was that sending the issue back to the states would discredit the pro-abortion movement as hysterical alarmists. Nothing has fundamentally changed. And from there, it becomes possible to discuss a moderate nationwide abortion ban that is more akin to what Europe has and make the pro-abortion left defend partial-birth abortion. When the alarmism has exhausted itself again, slice the onion a little more.
That said the best policy is still fighting this battle on a state-by-state level. There may be a more nuanced federal role in defunding Planned Parenthood and passing medical regulations that make it difficult to actually run an abortion clinic. That may be the smarter and more effective way to do it.
Those aren’t terms that sound popular, but they get past the false choices being offered between backing away from the issue or fully embracing it being offered in internal debates within the GOP.