Are Laws Really That Powerful in Today’s World?

Are Laws Really That Powerful in Today’s World? October 30, 2008

Have you heard claims from some that abortion rates have recently fallen due to Clinton-administration efforts?  And that laws, whether state or federal, have no bearing on abortion rates in America?  If you’re like many (most?) Americans, and you’ve heard both claims, here are some stats for you from an article by Michael New on the excellent The Public Discourse website, a project of pro-life Princeton scholar Robbie George and others:

“For instance, the 1990s decline in the abortion rate–a decline that is eagerly touted by these Obama and Kerry supporters–had virtually nothing to do with policies enacted by President Clinton, and much to do with the dramatic increase in the number of states that were enacting pro-life laws. The information below comes from NARAL’s Who Decides, an annual publication which provides information about abortion legislation:

– In 1992, virtually no states were enforcing informed-consent laws; by 2000, 27 states had informed-consent laws in effect.

– In 1992, no states had banned or restricted partial-birth abortion; by 2000, twelve states had bans or restrictions in effect.

– In 1992, only 20 states were enforcing parental-involvement statutes; by 2000, 32 states were enforcing these laws.”

What were the effects of these laws in certain states?  New provides a clear answer:

Case studies provide still more evidence of the effectiveness of state level pro-life legislation. Between 1992 and 2000 the overall abortion rate declined by 14 percent (among the 47 states reporting data both years). However, those states that were especially active in enacting pro-life legislation during the 1990s experienced even larger decreases in abortions.

Mississippi: Mississippi has probably been more active than any other state in enacting pro-life legislation. During the 1990s the legislature enacted an informed consent law, the most protective parental involvement law in the country (one which requires the consent of both parents), a partial birth abortion ban, and a sweeping conscience clause allowing any medical professional to opt out of participating in an abortion.

Abortion Rate Decline: 1992-2000: 52.07%

Pennsylvania: In the 1980s the Pennsylvania state legislature passed the Abortion Control Act, signed into law by the late Governor Robert P. Casey. It was one of the most comprehensive informed consent laws and included a parental consent law (It was the law the Supreme Court ruled on in its Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision in 1992). This law took effect sometime after the Supreme Court’s decision.

Abortion Rate Decline: 1992-2000: 23.50%

South Carolina: During the 1990s South Carolina passed a partial birth abortion ban, a parental consent law, an informed consent law, and an act regulating abortion clinics.

Abortion Rate Decline 1992-2000: 33.57%”

I am so thankful for this website, the institution it represents, and the excellent, fraud-busting work it’s doing.  I would encourage you to check The Public Discourse website in order to stay informed and rightly informed on current issues of great social importance.  The scholarship is nothing less than a model of clear, intelligent, powerfully persuasive writing and thinking.

In the end, this article pretty well dispels any argument to the effect that abortion laws–or other laws, for that matter–have little effect on the day-to-day life of citizens.  To the contrary, it seems that when the law speaks, the culture follows.  Remember this helpful article from Michael New the next time someone speaks to the contrary.

Also, far more importantly, let this piece of research and others shape the way you vote in the upcoming election.  Your vote–and the vote of those you elect–is not weak.  It potentially has tremendous power both to bless and to curse.  Do not fall into the trap of apathy and think that your small efforts–and those of government representatives–have no effect.  They certainly had an effect in saving the lives of hundreds and even thousands of babies in the states referenced above.  I hope that many more Christians will realize this, will prioritize the culture of life, and will vote so as to protect the family, the rights of individuals, and the lives of thousands–millions!–of innocent unborn children.

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