Back in Court

South Dakota recently signed into law [it’s not long, only a four-page read] legislation that puts all but a complete ban on abortion. It allows for it only in the most extreme cases which endanger the life of the woman and it denies action to women even in cases involving incest and rape. Coppertosteel first brought this to my attention, but you can also read about it at one of the many internet news sources here. Now, I’m not going to tell you based on some moral, anti- or pro-religious, or women’s rights argument that this is, perhaps, one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read — and recently I read this book — don’t let the high customer rating fool you; if the emotionally exploitive nature of this book really compels you, I suggest that instead of reading it, you volunteer at some local non-profit.

According to the figures I found at the CDC and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the US abortion ratio in 2000 was about 25%. This statistic measures the number of legal abortions per live births. It is a composite figures that states voluntarily report to the centers [at least for the CDC]; some states choose not to report, some are very accurate, and, of course, some fall in between. The take home is this: the abortion ratio under-reports. Now, South Dakota has pretty much asked the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade. And this legislation mentions scientific advancement since the Court last made its ruling. If the US banned abortions outright, which for the crude approximations I’m about to make should suffice, the abortion ratio tells us that about 1 million more babies would be born, and remember that number is low. We as a country pick up about 4 million babies each year any way. And here’s the kicker. We don’t have enough money to support them already.

Between the CDC and the AGI, it looks like single or unmarried women comprise close to 60% of those who have abortions [Curious stat: umarried women are 6 times more likely to have an abortion than married women], half of them are under 25, and 20% of them are under 19. I couldn’t easily find demographics on education or economic status, but from a lecture I went to at the Kennedy School in the fall, I can qualitatively tell you that the younger, less educated, and poorer a women is, the more likely she will not give up her baby to adoption. And the older, more educated, wealthier a women is the less likely she will even have a kid. The lecture did not mention abortion, but I’m willing to guess that whatever the numbers are we’re going to have to pour lots more money into the welfare state.

As it is, we have trouble taking care of our kids. There’s just not enough money to go around. The public education system is saturated. Abortions are highest [surprise] in the most populous states. The top three by incidence are New York, Florida, and Texas and rank second, third, and forth by population. South Dakota happens to be in the bottom four of both lists. [They reported just under 900 abortions of the 1 million reported in 1999.] These highly populated states will have to bear the brunt of the baby boom this law would incur. Just as a matter of resources, don’t change anything just yet. We can barely maintain status quo. As a potential educator, I’m terrified. I don’t know where we’d get more teachers, let alone qualified teachers. My pessimist leanings suggest we start building more prisons and raising funds. Once our schools fail these kids, tax payers will have to shell out about $22,650 per inmate if things stay the same according to the Bureau of Justice. The same report says that annually the prison system is a $38 billon industry. We need so many more teachers and jobs. [That same K-School lecture said we needed more highly skilled labor and turned to immigrants as a potential solution since our kids are too expensive to teach and because the success rate is so low. It’s getting harder and harder to out-compete India and Korea, for example.]

If you have the time, please write a letter to Representatives Hunt, Brunner, Deadrick, Dykstra, Gillespie, Glenski, Haverly, Heineman, Howie, Hunhoff, Jensen, Jerke, Klaudt, Koistinen, Kraus, Krebs, Lange, McCoy, Michels, Miles, Nelson, Novstrup, Pederson (Gordon), Rausch, Rhoden, Tornow, Turbiville, Van Etten, Weems, Wick, and Willadsen and Senators Bartling, Abdallah, Earley, Kelly, Kloucek, Koskan, McNenny, Moore, Napoli, and Schoenbeck, who introduced the bill. South Dakota has set up a handy webpage with a form to email each of them directly!

And while you’re at it, send a few letters to your own representative asking them to consider the economic impact of the law. No one wants to spend more money.

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