Catholic News Agency: Catholics in Alliance "Abortion Reduction" Study Found to be Faulty - Social Welfare Policies Have Little Effect on Abortion
Washington DC, Feb 11, 2009 / 04:09 am (CNA).- Until recently, a Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good study of abortion data claimed that increased spending on welfare programs results in substantial reductions in state abortion rates but many pro-life laws do not. However, the study’s results have been revised following the discovery that incorrect abortion data was used and after criticism from a professor that the group’s conclusions did not follow from the data.(emphasis added)
In August 2008, the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good announced the release of a study on the effects of public policy on abortion rates over a 20-year period. The group had commissioned Joseph Wright, who is a political science professor at Penn State University, and Michael Bailey, who is a professor of American government at Georgetown University, to conduct the study.
“The study of all U.S. states from 1982-2000 finds that benefits for pregnant women and mothers, employment, economic assistance to low-income families, quality child care for working mothers and removal of state caps on the number of children eligible for economic assistance in low-income families has reduced abortions,” the group reported in an August 28 press release. “In contrast, permitting Medicaid payments for abortions increased the abortion rate.”
The old version of the report was removed from the site in November 2008 after critics pointed out problems with the study.
The feedback of Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, was acknowledged in the new version of the report. Writing at the web site MoralAccountability.com, New said that the authors of the study discovered that they had used incorrect abortion data for the years following 1997.
“The new version provides evidence that welfare policy has no more than a marginal effect on the incidence of abortion,” he argued. “In fact, the new regression results indicate that none of the three welfare policies which the authors previously argued were effective tools for reducing the incidence of abortion have a substantial abortion reducing effect.”
He also criticized the report’s finding that parental involvement laws and other state laws restricting abortion have little impact on overall abortion rates.
“Since parental involvement laws only directly affect minors, Wright should have mentioned that analyzing their effects on the overall abortion rate is not a methodologically sound way to gauge their actual impact,” New wrote.
The argument that informed consent laws are ineffective, New claimed, fails to acknowledge the “substantial differences” in the effects of informed consent laws that have been enacted and those that have been nullified. By the report’s criteria, New argued, the results provide evidence that informed consent laws are effective.
However, Professor New also pointed out that events in the political arena were impacted by the first study.
In an essay at MoralAccountability.com, New accused Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good of misleading the public and referred to “plenty of peer reviewed studies” which find that public funding restrictions and parental involvement laws reduce the incident of abortion.
He claimed the study had a “substantial impact” on the pro-life debate in the 2008 Presidential election and gave “intellectual legitimacy” to those such as Doug Kmiec and Nicholas Cafardi who argued that pro-life voters should vote for Democrats to advance the pro-life cause.
In a Tuesday e-mail to CNA, Prof. New said that the research produced by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good seems unwilling to acknowledge the “positive effect of pro-life laws such as parental involvement and informed consent laws.”
CNA asked New to speculate why welfare spending generally does not decrease the abortion rate.
He suggested that welfare “undermines societal mores against premarital sex” by enabling women to have more children out of wedlock. Welfare may result in more unplanned pregnancies and possibly more abortions, New said.
“Regardless of how generous welfare benefits are, women facing crisis pregnancies can find financial and medical resources at one of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers across the country,” he added.
New noted the finding in both the current and previous versions of the group’s report that shows higher female employment is correlated with higher abortion rates.
New also mentioned a 2002 study which showed that Medicaid recipients have a higher incidence of abortion in states where Medicaid funds the procedure.
“In states that provide Medicaid funding for abortions, women with Medicaid coverage had an abortion rate more than four times as high as women without such coverage (89 vs. 21 per 1,000),” New summarized. “In contrast, in states that do not cover abortion services for women on Medicaid, the abortion rate among Medicaid recipients was only twice that of women without Medicaid coverage (35 vs. 16 per 1,000).”
While the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good study reports an increase in abortion rates in states where abortions are funded by Medicaid, New charged: “they do not give this finding much attention in the write-up.”
“Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good continues to miss opportunities with their abortion research,” New told CNA.
“I think that they would be more effective if they would be more willing to publicly acknowledge the positive impact of pro-life legislation and try to constructively work with pro-life groups to promote social policies that will further reduce abortion rates. Instead Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good seems primarily interested in providing moral, political, and theological cover for supporters of Barack Obama and other Democrats who support ‘abortion rights.’”
[Read the whole thing]
UPDATED (12 February 2009)
Regular Guy Paul has something to say about the lies and those who chose to believe them:
It was a lie. The left told a convenient lie, and the Catholic left opted to accept it. As I said at the time, they knew it was a lie.
They would rather claim to believe lies than vote against abortion. And, having won, they offer nary a keystroke to argue against abortion. They claimed to believe this study. They claimed that Obama's pro-abortion promises were just pandering. They claim to be pro-life. They, like "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good," are liars. They don't oppose abortion. They've made a negotiated peace on a non-negotiable issue. As I've called them before, they are turncoats in the culture war.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Archbishop Chaput: "Abortion Reduction Strategies" Ignore Half of the Problem [UPDATED]
Catholic World Report: "Douglas Kmiec and His Misinformation Offensive for Barack Obama"
Prof. Robert George: Notion that Obama's Policies Will Reduce Abortion is "Delusional"
Catholics in Alliance Voter Survey of "Little Value," Archdiocese of Denver Says
National Catholic Register: "Pro-Life Candidates Save Lives" [UPDATED]
Archbishop Chaput: Kmiec Doing a "Disservice to the Church"
USCCB Sets Record Straight Re: Catholic Stance on Overturning Roe
Mainstream Media Compliant in Obama's "Faith Outreach" Pitch
Debate Over at Amy's: Should Catholics Work for Legal Restrictions on Abortion?
Bishop Blair Responds to Gaillardetz Opinion Regarding Roe v. Wade
Cardinal Rigali's Statement for Respect Life Sunday
Deacon Fournier Puts Smack Down on Prof. Kmiec
Abortion Rate Falls ... Again
Mark Stricherz: "Why the Democratic Abortion Strategy is Worse"
U.S. Catholic Bishops: "You Can't Reduce Abortions by Promoting Abortions"
Blackadder: "Would Overturning Roe Reduce the Abortion Rate?"
"Poverty and Abortion: A New Analysis"
Number of Abortions Lowest in Decades
National Review Online: Mainstream Media Continues to Distort on Abortion
Pro-Life Quote of the Day