[FOUNTAIN]Abortion link to crime, and family month

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[FOUNTAIN]Abortion link to crime, and family month

The United States is not particularly known for a low crime rate and the maintenance of public peace. But the crime rate there has dropped drastically since the late 1990s. Homicides and crimes of violence both fell by 44 percent between 1991 and 2000. Thefts have decreased by nearly 50 percent.
As public order has improved, scholars and researchers began to wonder what had controlled crime. They reckoned that increased investment in law enforcement, tightened drug controls and the sustained economic boom were among the causes. But no theory was persuasive enough to be accepted completely.
Then came shocking research that seemed to deride all the previous efforts. In 2001, a Stanford law professor, John Donahue, and a University of Chicago economics professor, Steven Levitt, published a paper entitled, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.” The two scholars claimed that the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court in 1973 was largely responsible for the crime reduction.
Their theory was simple. They said that among the women who decided to have an abortion, many were unmarried or poor and could not provide an adequate environment to raise a child. Those children born to mothers in difficult situations are more likely than better-off children to become a criminal when they are between the ages of 15 and 25.
The gist of the paper is that the abortions of those potential “prime candidates” for crime since 1973 contributed greatly to the reduction of the crime in the 1990s. The growing rates of abortion, from 750,000 in 1973 to 1.5 million in the early 1980s, correlated with the falling crime rate since 1991.
The authors said the falling crime rates started earlier in states like New York and California, where abortion was legal before 1970. They estimated that every 1,000 abortions performed between 1973 and 1976 contributed to the reduction of 380 thefts, 50 violence-related crimes and 0.6 homicide.
Critics attacked the paper as unethical. But it is common sense that the children born and raised in loving families are more likely to become healthy adults of the next generation. Mr. Donohue and Mr. Levitt should have chosen to provide a proof of this ordinary truth as well. In May, family month, let’s keep family values in mind.


by Nahm Yoon-ho

The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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