“Every Life is Precious” — Not According to the Numbers
A look into the data of pro-life states
Compared to disagreements over various social issues, the debate over abortion rights is unique. Unlike issues, such as the legalization of marijuana or racial disparities in society, in which we can turn to science and data for evidence, abortion debates are motivated almost entirely by emotions. On one side, people believe infanticide is being committed, and on the other, people believe a fundamental right over one’s body is under attack. Because of the difference in perspectives, little compromise has been reached.
Personally, I do support a women’s right to choose what she does with her body. However, I can sympathize with the opposing side. If you’re wired to think that literal murder of children is occurring, it’s difficult to not be zealous.
This being said, there is a consistent argument that is used by pro-life politicians that peeves me. After passing probably the most restrictive and punishing abortion law in the United States, Alabama’s governor Kay Ivey,produced the perfunctory statement that “every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God”. Eight other states followed suit with a similar mindset. While the sentiment is admirable, Alabama’s ability to uphold this mantra is questionable. It may be impossible to quell the emotion fueled differences over abortions through data. However, pointing out the hypocrisy in Gov. Ivey and her peers’ argument is doable.
Let us begin with education. Investing into a child’s education is a display of care for their livelihood. An educated child is able to navigate society, obtain a profession that allows for independence, and potentially contribute to the community that helped raise them. Providing a child with the means to succeed demonstrates a communities priority.
Yet, based on average spending data for students, all but one of the states that recently passed abortion legislation fall below the median of student spending. This lack of spending manifests in the form of fewer teachers with smaller wages. Students that attend school in Utah share a classroom with an average of twenty seven other students. Population is not a bias in this data set, as schools in Wyoming and Alaska do not struggle with class sizes nor student spending.
Large class sizes lead to poorer student learning, as teachers are incapable of catering to too many students at once. While such an approach is acceptable in a university setting, grade school students still need guidance in much of their course work. Similarly to any business, an understaffed workforce produces strained laborers and worse results.
Education is arguably irrelevant to measuring how precious one considers their youth. The emphasis on education is perhaps a symptom of my liberal biases. Demonstrating the value of life can be as simple as providing your denizens with food on their table and a roof over their head. For the easily content, a full belly is enough.
Unfortunately, of the nine states to pass stricter abortion laws, seven are over the median for food insecurity. This is a measurement of how many citizens out of the states population stated that they did not have continuous access to food. In parallel with such measurements, several of these states struggle with high poverty rates. In the top ten states to exhibit the highest rates of poverty in 2014, six of them included states now claiming to defend the sanctity of life.
Again, perhaps this is a cultural difference. It seems rational that if one would uphold the importance of life, it would be in their interest to give the living an enjoyable life. Couples who are incapable of supporting themselves should not be placed in the position in which they need to take care of another. Nor should a child be forced to be raised in poverty, where they are statistically more likely to be involved in crime, substance abuse, trauma, and mistreatment. A poor upbringing can bolster such a cycle.
Based on the quote of Gov. Ivey and the data present thus far, simply living is enough. According to numbers, this is regardless of a good education, availability of food, and a shelter. A life of destitute for multiple supersedes, the possible success of the few or lifetime struggle of an individual.
Such a life does not suffice for many. Furthermore, children brought up in poverty can die young or develop impairments. The numbers, sadly, confirm this. The states that have been following trends in previous graphs, exhibit high infant mortality rates. Alabama is second on this list, right after Mississippi. Based on these numbers, it’s hard for Alabama to claim moral and religious superiority over anyone. These are not the numbers of a state that considers life to be sacred.
The Bible, the sacred script the drives the majority of pro-life arguments, does not actually make mention of abortions. This is primarily because such a concept did not exist during the time of the texts writing. Due the absence of such mention, supporters quote passages that exemplify the notion of life being sacred.
If the nine states truly believe the doctrines, I challenge them to uphold their beliefs through data driven evidence. By promoting their own, these nine states can bring much more joy to its people. This may additionally reduce the desire for abortions. Abortions are rarely used as a means of contraception. The motivating factors are often monetary. Reducing poverty and investing more into child education, maybe the most successful means of curbing abortions. The states that claim to respect life cannot also be leaders in infant mortality rates.