Back on February 8th, Dr. Michael New was the guest of FRC for their weekly blogger conference calls. I don’t actually know where Dr. New is from–he is not listed on the Heritage Foundation’s experts page. He did, however, release his latest research with the Heritage Foundation. It is an interesting piece of work, and can be found here.
In essence, Dr. New argues that pro-life legistlation has actually had an impact on abortions: where parental involvement laws and medicaid funding restrictions were enacted, the number of abrtions for females ages 13-17 declined.
Dr. New contends that abortions have gone down everywhere between 1992-2000, but moreso in states that have passed pro-life laws, which indicates that the pro-life caucus is actually making progress. It is interesting to hear him back up statistically what Ramesh Ponnoru indicated about the political world. While the pro-life culture might look stagnant, it has made incremental gains that are significant.
Consider, for instance, Mississippi, which has only one abortion clinic remaining in its entire state. Dr. New thinks that this is in part because they passed a number of pro-life laws in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, however, most people don’t really know how permissive abortions are, and are consequently against incremental restrictions on abortions (see California, for instance). In most states it is possible to get abortions in 8th and 9th months, and often minors can get abortion without consent. The advantage of fighting for incremental laws is that they push the debate to new areas and raise awareness to these issues.
In all, it was an encouraging phone call for pro-lifers. Dr. New’s next research also sounds interesting: is promoting contraceptive use among young people actually effective at reducing the number of abortions, as is often claimed? We’ll keep you informed.