The Impact of Abortion on Crime


A study conducted by a researcher at the University of Maryland shows that legalized abortion has led to higher rates of crime and increased murder rates. The occured because a higher percentage of children grew up in single-parent homes during the years following Roe v. Wade.

The findings have been published in the April 2007 issue of the academic journal Economic Inquiry and are part of a new book written by researcher John R. Lott.

According to Lott, the high court’s decision ultimately resulted in more out-of-wedlock births, a reduction in the number of children adopted and fewer married parents.

“Those are contradictory directions,” the economist told the Cybercast News Service in an interview. “What ties them together is liberalized abortion rules.”

Lott said those results produced by Roe “affected decisions on premarital sex and careful contraception. It’s a matter of economics. When something seems less costly, there’s more of it.”

As has previously reported, Lott and John Whitley, affiliated with the University of Chicago, wrote a paper in August 2006 challenging claims that abortion led to less crime.

That paper led to the journal article and subsequent book by Lott.

Because Roe resulted in more children growing up in single-parent homes and because such children are more likely to become criminals than those in two-parent homes, the researchers say abortion led to higher rates of crime.

They point out that 5 percent of white children were born out of wedlock from 1965 to 1969, compared to 16 percent in the 1980′s. Black children born out of wedlock increased from 35 percent to 62 percent in the same period.

These children of unwed mothers, statistically more at risk of becoming criminals, are responsible for the increase of murders by 700 cases in 1998 alone, they say. Such a dramatic increase carried a financial price tag of $3.3 billion in “victimization costs,” according to their paper.

Ultimately, Lott says murder rates rose anywhere from half a percent to 7 percent as a result of legalized abortion.

The new study is another among other recent analysis showing the finding of the authors of the 2001 book “Freakonomics” were wrong in contending that abortion led to a decrease in crime.

John Donohue of Stanford Law School and Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago published a study linking a decline in the U.S. violent crime in the 1990s with abortion.

“If the estimates are correct, legalized abortion can explain about half of the recent fall in crime,” Donohue and Levitt wrote.

The authors argue that the ready availability of abortion since its legalization in 1973 resulted in fewer unwanted children and therefore less crime in later generations. They cited arrest records to claim that abortion would account for a 1% reduction in crime each year over the next two decades.

Lott says the analysis in the book is wrong because the authors only examined five states that legalized abortion prior to Roe and assumed that no abortions were occurring in the other 45, even though they were done in limited circumstances.

“Some states had a fair number of abortions. Some were more restrictive,” he told CNS News. “You can’t assume there was zero before Roe.”

Also, in November 2005, Christopher Foote, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and research assistant Christopher Goetz, told the Wall St. Journal the data Levitt used was faulty.

Foote said there was a “missing formula” in Levitt’s original research that allowed him to ignore certain factors that may have contributed to the lowering of crime rates during the 1980s and 1990s.

Foote also argues that Levitt counted the total number of arrests made when he should have used per-capita figures. After Foote adjusted for both factors, the abortion effect simply disappeared, the Journal reported.

“There are no statistical grounds for believing that the hypothetical youths who were aborted as fetuses would have been more likely to commit crimes had they reached maturity than the actual youths who developed from fetuses and carried to term,” the Foote and Goetz say in their report.


“We live in a culture where there’s national outrage after every mass murder of the “wanted” but virtual silence over the murder of millions of the “unwanted” in society.  When killing your own child for personal convenience is perfectly fine, and legal, how can we be surprised that people are murdered every day to fulfill selfish desires?” — Adam Cassandra


Our 40-year history of indiscriminately killing babies by abortion upon demand has created our culture of death to the undesired and has given us the message that undesired life has little, if any, value. Some adverse consequences of this culture and conduct include abortion parents having strong feelings of guilt, abortion mothers having problems with future pregnancies and depriving loving couples from adopting these children.

Our history of killing babies by abortion has also delivered the clear message that killing someone who is not liked or wanted is permissible. Daily, the media reports many violent acts and killings in our country. While there are certainly other contributing causes to this violence, the culture of death to the undesired fostered by abortions is also a major factor.


One-third of “Generation Y” is missing because of abortion. The death toll is enormously high, yet we can recite such statistics without actually considering just how staggering those numbers really are.

We who were born in the 34 years since Roe v. Wade have grown up in a society that does not value human life, that places more importance on ease and convenience than on accountability and responsibility. Look at the lessons taught by television, movies, and much of today’s music.

We’re told repeatedly that there are no consequences to our actions and that we should live our lives the way we want with little regard for others. Because the pro-abortion movement has repeatedly declared that unborn human life has no value, many young people have followed the erroneous logic and concluded that perhaps this means that all human life is without worth.

Is it really an accident that there has been a sizeable increase in school violence, greater instances of school shootings, increased gang involvement, and higher rates of teen suicide? Abortion threatens to undermine what the Founding Fathers described as our “in-alienable” right to life.


The United States experienced 645 mass-murder events — killings with at least four victims — between 1976 and 2010, according to Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. When graphed, these incidents show no obvious trend. The numbers go up and down and up again. The total body count: 2,949.

Mark Kopta, psychology professor at the University of Evansville in Indiana, researched mass killings in the U.S. (defined as attacks leading to the deaths of at least five people, including the killer’s suicide).

1930-1970:  3 incidents

1970-1979:  3 incidents

1980-1989:  10 incidents

1990-1999:  17 incidents

2000-2012:  25 incidents (with 9 mass murders alone in 2012)

Between the years 1863 and 1972, there were 36 incidents of mass murder in this country. Since 1973, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, there have been 54, more than a 400 percent increase. Can you not see the correlation?

Beneath the euphemistic banner of “reproductive choice,” hundreds of women elect to have their own babies slaughtered in the womb daily. Children – those who dodged the abortion bullet anyway – aren’t stupid; they’re just young. From this, they can only deduce that, according to our culture, human life is cheap and meaningless.

So why are we surprised when people like the “Batman killer” act accordingly?

Indeed, in our perverse society, a woman exercising her “right to choose” death for her innocent child represents “courage,” while the Batman shooter’s “choice” to kill innocent moviegoers represents cowardice. And it is. They are both acts of cowardice. The only relevant difference is the victims’ age.

Let me be clear: Am I comparing this incredibly wicked, illegal mass murder at Aurora’s Century Theatre to the incredibly wicked, legal mass murder committed at Planned Parenthoods across the country each day? Absolutely – and you can quote me on it.

But again, like the Batman murders, our nation’s 55-plus million abortion murders post Roe v. Wade are not the cause of our culture of death; they are merely a symptom. Ultimately, the cause stems from something much less complicated.


The best-known study of the abortion-crime connection was performed by John J. Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt in 2001. In Harvard University’s Quarterly Journal of Economics, they concluded that “Legalized abortion contributed significantly to recent crime reductions. … Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.” The authors noted, “Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization,” and that the social benefit of this decrease in crime is about $30 billion annually.

Donohue and Levitt wrote that, since 1991 ― 18 years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion ― murder rates have fallen faster than at any time since the end of Prohibition in 1933. They added that the five states that legalized abortion earlier than 1973 [New York, California, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska] also experienced earlier declines in crime. Finally, they found that states with especially high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s had equally dramatic crime reductions in the 1990s.

Prominent pro‑abortion groups and leaders immediately seized on the results of the Donohue‑Levitt study and used them as justification for promoting and funding the practice of abortion. For example, Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler, in an op‑ed piece heartlessly entitled “It’s Better for Us that They Died,” declared moral vindication and grumbled that he had been saying for decades that abortion would reduce crime.

Donohue and Levitt are certainly correct when they say that violent and property crimes are down by astonishing numbers since 1991.  While Donohue and Levitt were doing their research, however, other scientists were arriving at opposite results.

Statistician David Murray confirmed that young males between the ages of 17 and 25 commit the majority of crimes. However, if abortion had reduced crime, the crime rates in the United States would have dropped first among young people. They did not. Instead, the number of crimes committed by older people dropped first. Nearly 60% of the decline in murder since 1990 involved killers aged 25 and older — who were born before Roe v. Wade.

Murray also found that other nations with high abortion rates showed a large increase in crime about eighteen years after they legalized abortion. For example, in Great Britain, which legalized abortion in 1968, violent crime has been rising steeply since about 1985 ― exactly when it should have been declining, according to the Donohue‑Levitt thesis. Additionally, Russia, with the highest abortion rate on earth, has experienced a tidal wave of every kind of violent crime following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Finally, the huge increase in violent crime that peaked in 1991 and then began to decline is more closely related to the crack epidemic, not abortion. The Donohue‑Levitt study confirms that the crime rate rose and fell exactly where crack cocaine was most easily available ― in the large cities and among young Black males.11 This is also confirmed by the rise in crime during the time period 1984 to 1991, after a decline from 1980 to 1984. If abortion were the primary cause of a decline in violent crime, the crime rate would have been relatively stable during the time period 1980 to 1991.

So the question for all of us, pro‑lifers and “pro‑choicers” alike, is this: Do we want to attack the symptom or the cause? Do we clumsily and bloodily try to eliminate even more criminals through the mechanisms of eugenics, abortion, sterilization and birth control (programs that have proved themselves unequal to the task), or do we embrace the proven remedies of strengthening family life, enforcing the law and providing education, resources and better living conditions for the poor?


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