Should Catholics Vote Democrat to Reduce Abortions?

This week I talked with a good and holy Franciscan priest while I was spreading the pro-life message on a college campus. He suggested that we have fewer abortions under Democrat presidents than under Republican presidents. He was very bold in stating that: “It’s a fact.”

Now, I’ve heard the idea before that since Democrats tend to favor federal social programs that those programs reduce the need for abortion. But, for some reason, the words of this priest stirred me to investigate further. What I found will surprise a lot of Catholics…

It should be quite easy to prove this preist right or wrong since we have statistics on abortion since before Roe. So, we should be able to match those stats up with the years of Democrat presidents and Republican presidents and see pretty clearly which ruling party has fewer abortions on their watch.

So, I looked up the reported number of abortions and the abortion rates since 1974 (the year after all abortion restrictions were removed by Roe v Wade) up until 2008 the latest year that has complete data. I then matched that up with the different presidents that we’ve had. Finally, I calculated the total number of abortions under each party and divided by the number of  years that party held the executive office. I also averaged the abortion rates under each party. You can download my calculations here. I got the data from here and here.

You can replicate this yourself, it’s a simple calculation.

It turns out that Republican presidents average lower abortion numbers and lower abortion rates than Democrat presidents. On average, under Democrat leadership, there were 70,172 MORE abortions per year than under Republican leadership. According to this data, a Democrat president leads to an average increase in the abortion rate of 5.29% more than a Republican.

So, the ‘Fact’ that this preist was telling me turns out to be a myth. Why was he wrong?

I think it’s because in the 90’s there were fewer abortions under Clinton than there were under Bush the elder. So, people at that time justified voting Dem because it appeared that Clinton brought abortions down. But, there were fewer abortions under GW Bush than there were under Clinton. So, this myth has persisted for nearly 20 years!

Did you believe it too? Well, it’s not your fault. You were misled into believing this myth. But, now you know 🙂

But wait, there’s more…

There are a lot of factors that influence the number of abortions in our country. To leave the numbers where they are could be misleading. I don’t think these numbers tell the full story. Let’s go deeper…

First of all, these are US abortions. Democrat Presidents (including Obama) promote abortion throughout the world through funding population control at the UN, expanding taxpayer funding for abortion providers abroad and other such policies. The Obama Administration supported pushing for the legalization of abortion in Kenya, for example.  These increases in abortions are not accounted for in the numbers analyzed above.

I still think there’s more to the story.

Take a look at this graph.

You can see the blue line increase up until 1990 and then start to decrease thereafter. (It’s a little clearer on the chart here.) What do you think happened in the early 90s that started the downward trend in abortion numbers. Maybe it was a new democrat social program?


It was a Supreme Court case.

After Roe v Wade, there were basically no regulations on abortion whatsoever. States started passing reasonable regulations and Planned Parenthood sued to get those regulations declared unconstitutional. The result was the Planned Parenthood v Casey decision of the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood v Casey allowed states to finally regulate and restrict abortion. Most of the regulations to abortion that were challenged in PP v Casey were upheld and allowed to go into effect. This gave the green light to other states to start passing more restrictions on abortion. Looking at the data, it’s clear that the drop in abortion numbers and rates came as these restrictions went into effect. Once pro-lifers were able to pass restrictions on abortion, the abortion numbers started to decline and have continued to do so for the last 20 years.

This lines up perfectly with the numbers. Abortion numbers peaked in the US in 1990.  I’m no lawyer, so I’m open to correction here, but PP v Casey was already coming up through the courts and the lower court actually lifted the injunction in 1991 which is the year that abortions started to decline.

Coincidence? I think not and nor does Dr. Michael New who’s research shows that restrictions like those allowed by the Casey decision do in fact reduce abortions.

It appears that the reduction in abortions in the US comes not from Democrat social programs, but more from Republican restrictions on abortion. In fact, Democrats fight tooth and nail to block these abortion reducing restrictions in every state and at the federal level.

As you get ready to vote this November, remember that Barack Obama has never supported a single restriction on abortion. It’s clear from the data that these restrictions reduce abortions. In fact, he voted against the Illinois version of the most reasonable and bipartisan restriction known as the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. He also does not support the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. (Sound to extreme for Mr. President? Look it up. Sadly, I’m right.)

Furthermore, Obama fervently supports the “Freedom of Choice Act” which would basically nullify all restrictions on abortion and potentially bring us back to pre-1992 levels of abortion (That would be an increase of about 400k abortions per year!). On top of all that, Obamacare will fund abortion and if fully implemented will amount to the largest increase in abortions since Roe.

It may make you feel better to say that Democrats reduce abortions, but in the end, it just doesn’t add up.

But Mitt Doesn’t Care

“But Mitt Romney won’t do anything about abortion anyway!” you say?

Well, he will reverse Obama’s international abortion push. That’s been Republican policy back to Reagan. But let’s say you’re right. I’m not totally convinced that he will restrict abortion beyond those international measures either.

Even if Romney isn’t going to actively restrict abortion…

1 – Obama will do everything he can to stop any and all abortion reducing restrictions.

2 – Obama will continue to promote international abortions.

3 – Full implementation of Obamacare will cause the greatest increase in abortion in 40 years.

4 – If Obama gets his way with the Freedom of Choice Act and Obamacare, we would have at LEAST 400,000 more abortions per year than we do now.

As a Catholic, you have to ask yourself: Is voting for Obama really worth it?

4 thoughts on “Should Catholics Vote Democrat to Reduce Abortions?

  1. Several years ago a group of Republican operatives came up with an idea that built off this notion of reducing abortion through social services. They wanted to propose legislation that would shift all abortion funding to women and children assistance. So instead of “cutting” the abortion funding, it would just take that money and use it to provide welfare, healthcare, etc. Which according the (broken) democrat logic is supposed to reduce abortion anyway.

    The idea was that these assistance programs were threatened by budget shortfalls, and that everyone would be looking to cut here specifically, but that pulling the money from abortion funding would be a reasonable compromise. It’s too bad it never got off the ground.

  2. ObamaCare Mandate is Worse than you think!

    President Obama’s Planned Parenthood commercial.

    We have before a choice to pay to kill millions of the unborn(Obamacare) and not to pay for it by voting against Obama. CA & NY are 2 examples of increased abortions when government &/or health insurances pay for abortions past the exceptions~
    Public Funding for Family Planning, Sterilization and Abortion Services, FY 1980–2010 p1
    The states spent $68 million on about 181,000 abortion procedures for low-income women in FY 2010, almost all of it in the 17 states that use their own funds to pay for most or all medically necessary abortions provided to Medicaid recipients. The federal government,
    which restricts funding to cases of life endangerment, rape and incest, contributed to the cost of only 331 of those procedures.
    p18 NY 45,722 abortions < CA 88,466 abortions
    In 2008, 214,190 women obtained abortions in California
    Medi-Cal Funded Induced Abortions, 2009 ~ 88,466 Total cost $28,359,507
    2009 New York has more information on abortion Gestion 20+ Weeks 2,458, 4,342 women has had 5+ Previous abortions, Financial Coverage~ Medicaid 45,722, HMO 3,487, Other Ins 31,841, Self Pay 28,118, More Than One 275
    Total abortions 115,008 Also on there is the type of abortions
    2010 NY Gestion 20+ Weeks 2,406, 5+ previous abortions 4,316,
    Financial Coverage ~Medicaid 47,548, HMO 3,576, Other Ins 29,272,Self Pay 23,944, More Than One 291

  3. This is a GREAT question and thank you so much for taking the time to analyze this data and post your calculations. You are definitely right—these data do not suggest that there are lower abortion rates during years in which a Democrat is president. I would have guessed the same as the priest, so it’s important that you actually examined the data! But I would also add a few caveats to your interpretation. Using the excel data sheet you provided, I imported rate/woman, rate/population, year, and political party (dummy coded as 1 = R, 2 = D) into statistical software (SPSS) to examine this question more precisely. Actually, based on all the data you provided, the difference in abortion rates for Democrats and Republicans is about as nonsignificant of an effect as you can get, t(33) = 0.04, p = .97. In rough terms, there is about a 97% likelihood that any differences between the groups are completely due to chance. What is absolutely statistically certain, as obvious from that nice graph you posted, is that abortion rates have been decreasing steadily in the last few decades. If I made a simplistic interpretation of this based solely on the data, I would be likely to conclude that as a pro-lifer, it doesn’t matter at all whether you vote for Romney or Obama in terms of abortion rates.

    But clearly there must be some other reason(s) for the decrease in abortions over time. I would guess that changing attitudes over time might have an influence. I think it is premature to wager that Planned Parenthood v. Casey was responsible for the decrease in abortions—you could very easily suggest that changing attitudes in the population/legislators against abortion caused the PP v. Casey ruling, and also caused the decrease in abortions.

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