The completed research report by researchers John J. Donohue III of Stanford Law School and Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, drawing a connection between abortion and crime rates is being published next month in Harvard University’s Quarterly Journal of Economics. The study makes the case that there is a strong correlation between the rise in abortion following Roe v. Wade and a drop in crime, and suggests that this is due to the drop in the number of “unwanted” children. The same argument has been made repeatedly over the years by Canada’s leading abortion proponent (and amateur criminologist), Henry Morgentaler.

Last year, a preliminary write-up of the study had the media so excited that the abortion issue received almost as much coverage in that context as is the case alleged incidents of “anti-choice violence.” The coverage was largely a PR campaign by pro-aborts. They seemed to be saying, “We’ve got those stupid pro-lifers now! We can now make the case that their view on abortion is a pro-crime position. Let’s see them get out of that one!”

Abortion is a symptom

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there is a strong correlation and maybe even causation on this point. The fact remains that abortion is a symptom of a prior problem – an erosion in the general population’s commitment to the value of human life, and more specifically, a disappearance of the Christian ethic of parental devotion towards their children. A few generations ago it wouldn’t have mattered whether a child was “wanted” or not. In most cases, if the child came along, he would be raised by parents who recognized their God-given responsibility as parents. A cultural ethos provided external pressure to live up to such responsibilities even if the parents were tempted to abandon them.

If “unwanted” children today are disproportionately deviant, including having a greater propensity for criminal activity, this speaks more about the condition of parenthood than it does about the children themselves. It reveals to us how much filth has infested what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful earthly relationships, one filled with sacrifice, charity, devotion and commitment.

If parents are so selfish that they openly communicate to unwanted children that they are unwanted, this is indicative of how debased we have become as a society. Those who would use the Donohue and Levitt study to justify abortion have fallen to such a debased level of morality that they can no longer discern between virtue and vice; they reveal a desire to preserve and fuel the ruthless vice of selfishness in one of the most precious relationships known to civilized society.

Self-sacrifice and charity

Where is the commitment to restoring virtues such as self-sacrifice and charity – ethics that are instrumental to the survival of civilization? A few years ago, people wouldn’t dream of articulating such views in public – unless that “public” was a small group of secret society members meeting somewhere in a dank, dark basement. Yet today people claiming the credibility of being “scientists” and “doctors” are making such pronouncements. One has to grieve when you think about where our society is headed.

The problem of crime is not primarily sociological anyway; it is a matter of human nature and the propensity to sin. So, if crime is higher among “unwanted” children, this is also a symptom of poor parenting. The most powerful factor against deviance is the internal transformation wrought by a relationship with Christ, but even among non-Christians, good training and external restrictions are helpful factors in curbing a person’s tendency to crime. Such training begins at infancy and is the responsibility of parents. Whether by virtue of neglect (as in the case of unwanted children) or ignorance, parents who don’t include the cultivation of a strong moral responsibility in the training of their children, are doing them a great disservice. From this perspective, then, “unwantedness” is still just a symptom of the greater problem of selfish parenting.