Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Contraception and Abortion Create More Poor, Fatherless Kids

Sociologist Brad Wilcox, in his Meaning of Marriage essay, reviews the high hopes that some had in the 1960s and '70s that the Pill and easy abortion would mean that every child would be born into a secure home. If it was so easy to prevent births that the parents were not prepared for, this reasoning went, then responsible parents would only have children when they were married and financially ready.

It turns out, though, that there are lots of irresponsible parents. In facts, there are plenty of guys willing to make babies, then leave it up to the mother to decide to have all the children she wanted. After all, it was her choice. Contraception and abortion, and the culture of choice that came with them, shifted the balance in a relationship from the women who wanted to marry and raise kids with their husbands, to the men who might or might not follow through in marrying their pregnant girlfriends and raising the children they made.

The problem of fatherless children affects all classes, but is most common, and hurts the worst, among the poor. In fact, having children without husbands is the main way that women get and stay poor.

When responsible people free themselves from rules that would force them to act responsibly, they feel freer – and do the right thing anyway. However, the unintended consequence of removing the rules and restraints is that other people feel free, too – but often don't do the right thing anyway. Leaving the responsible people to help pick up the pieces.

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Gruntled said...

Sorry about that, everyone. The sleaze slips in sometimes.

Anonymous said...

What about the whole argument that the reason that crime dropped in the 1990s (despite predictions that it would continue to rise), is that we, as a nation, effectively aborted a whole generation of criminals (starting in the mid-70s when abortion became legal )? (I can't remember the author, but I know there is reference to this theory in Freakonomics; idea that being unwanted is the greatest predictor that one will end up down and out and that by definition, a fetus that was aborted was unwanted). Understand the argument of the author as you have laid it out in your blog, but I wonder how the author would deal with this body of evidence?

Gruntled said...

As I recall, the Freakonomics argument was not so much that we aborted the unwanted, who would have gone on to be criminals, but the number of young people is smaller due to abortion, so the number of lawbreakers is diminished.