by Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq.
September 24, 2004
We've all seen the fabulously popular and ubiquitous Frank Capra flick, "It's a Wonderful Life." We know the bitter-sweet post-war tale of how the lives of the people of Bedford Falls were touched by George Bailey, and how different things would have been if he had never existed.
It's a great lesson in the principle that absences have consequences.
Thirty-one years after Roe v. Wade it's impossible to imagine what life would be like if those 40 million people were among us today. But odds are they would have been very much like us -- going to school, getting jobs, raising families. And voting.
Their missing votes is what Wall Street Journal reporter James Taranto calls the "Roe effect."
The Roe Effect theorizes that "pro-choice" women are more likely to have abortions than pro-life women, and that children tend to espouse the views of their parents. Thus, there are fewer and fewer children growing up to become "pro-choice" adults -- and this, according to the theory, has political ramifications.
Larry Eastland, discussing the Roe Effect recently in The American Spectator, said the children who were aborted instead of born in any given year can be considered "Missing Voters" 18 years later, the year they would have reached voting age. He calculated that abortions from 1973 to 1982 resulted in approximately 13 million Missing Voters in the 2000 election. Even taking into account the fact that not all possible voters become actual voters in any given election, the closeness of the last election can leave no doubt about the significance of millions of missing votes.
Now skip ahead four years. A whole new group of young people has reached voting age since the last election but missing among them are those who were aborted from 1982 to 1986. Thus, the total number of Missing Voters in the upcoming election will be 19 million.
"Like an avalanche that picks up speed, mass, and power as it thunders down a mountain," Eastland wrote, "the number of Missing Voters from abortion changes the landscape of politics."
But can we know how they would have voted? No, of course not. Still, as a general proposition, children tend to absorb the values of their parents, including their political views, and tend to develop the same lifestyle as their family. So if pro-lifers beget pro-lifers, then pro-choicers beget pro-choicers -- unless they abort them instead.
A recent Wirthlin Worldwide survey found that, of the Americans who call themselves politically "conservative," 25% are having abortions. In contrast, 40% of self-described political "liberals" are having abortions. As Eastland wrote, "Liberals have been remarkably blind to the fact that every day the abortions they advocate dramatically decrease their power to do so."
It's the classic Pyrrhic victory.
Catholics have sometimes been accused of promoting large families as a means of gaining social or political control -- a claim which is absurd on its face. But if the Roe Effect is true, then it's not a stretch to say that the "pro-choice" movement is quite literally killing itself.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq. is the Director of Planning and Information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.