A new study by researchers from Middlebury College, the Guttmacher Institute, and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health found that in “more than half of states, including the entire West Coast and Northeast,” overturning Roe v. Wade would have no real effect on abortion access.
The study estimates that post-Roe, the abortion rate would be 32.8 percent lower “for the regions at high risk of banning abortions” and 12.8 percent lower nationwide. In raw numbers that’s more than 100,000 fewer abortions per year, a pro-life triumph.
But, ending Roe would cut nationwide abortions by only less than 13 percent.
How could that be? Wouldn’t abortion bans have greater effect? Not really. A glance at state-by-state Guttmacher data on abortion rates tells us why. The states that have sought to ban or dramatically restrict abortion generally already have extremely low abortion rates. The big states of the West and Northeast that don’t restrict abortion have much higher rates of the procedure. Abortion is much more prevalent in the populous states of the coastal left; California’s rate is 19 per 1,000.
The numbers highlight two central realities in the fight for life: Cultural change precedes legal change, and cultural change is more potent than legal change. For example, according to CDC data, despite an expanding population, there were 202,000 fewer abortions in the United States in 2015 compared with 2006. That’s a greater reduction than the one projected to result from overruling Roe, and it was accomplished while Roe remained intact.
Put simply, the pro-life movement is one of the most successful cultural movements in American history.
The law tends to follow and then amplify underlying cultural trends. A state has to be ready to pass abortion restrictions, and when it finally does, those restrictions save additional lives by diminishing the abortion industry’s presence in the state.
The law can assist in the goal to reduce abortions, but the law is not the principal means of achieving it. Win the culture, and you win the war, saving countless lives even before you can change a single law. Lose the culture, and not even a repealed Roe will end the terrible scourge of abortion in the United States.
Full story at The National Review.