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RealChoice

Unequal Burden on the Poor?
Do the poor really want these abortions?
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A popular argument for abortion on demand is that recriminalizing abortion would "impose an unequal burden on poor women."

I find it interesting that poor women are never the ones agitating for greater "access to abortion." As a group, they have never complained that they wanted abortions, asking instead for decent housing, better schools, and a chance to rise out of poverty. Naturally, pro-choice lawmakers offer them abortions.

The choice that the poor ask for isn't the choice to abort their children -- it's the choice to send their children to better schools. Isn't it curious that it always seems to be rich, white elitists and liberal busybodies who are so worried about poor women having "access to abortions," and so opposed to them having a choice of schools for their children?*

Ironically, this may be one of those rare cases in which the poor might welcome an unequal burden. It's certainly no secret that when there is social inequality, the poor inevitably get the worst of it. But with abortion, the opposite is true. After all, when abortion is illegal the children of the poor are safer than the children of the rich because their mothers can't afford abortions.

Polls on abortion approval by income:

ABC News poll on RU-486, September 2000:

Income Should be legal Should be illegal
< $25,000 37% 53%
> $75,000 55% 35%

Let's look at a more specific breakdown, in this May 1992 Wirthlin poll. It asked if the person favored or opposed "Amending the U.S. Constitution to protect the right of unborn children to live:"

Income <15K 15-30K 30-40K 40-60K >60K
Total
favor
65% 49% 51% 42% 37%
Total
oppose
28% 44% 43% 52% 58%
Strongly
favor
45% 35% 39% 33% 27%
Somewhat
favor
20% 14% 12% 9% 10%
Somewhat
oppose
14% 20% 17% 21% 18%
Strongly
oppose
14% 24% 26% 31% 40%

The poorest people are far more likely to want to see the unborn protected than are the richest people. The richest people are the ones most likely to oppose protecting the unborn.

Even more telling is the fact that it's the rich, not the poor, that tend to favor funding abortions for the poor, as we seen in the results of this May 1992 Wirthlin poll. It asked if the person favored or opposed "Using tax dollars to pay for abortions for women who cannot afford them:"

Income <15K 15-30K 30-40K 40-60K >60K
Total
favor
32% 41% 41% 49% 57%
Total
oppose
63% 54% 58% 49% 41%
Strongly
favor
16% 22% 22% 24% 34%
Somewhat
favor
16% 19% 19% 26% 24%
Somewhat
oppose
9% 18% 9% 16% 21%
Strongly
oppose
54% 36% 49% 33% 20%

Here we see that the very people who are the supposed beneficiaries of subsidized abortions don't want anything to do with it, with more than about two-thirds opposed, and more than half strongly opposed. And of those who favor funding abortions for poor women, the biggest percentage of supporters is among those with annual incomes over $60,000, of whom 57 percent favor paying for these abortions. And again, if we look at who strongly supports paying for abortions for the poor, again it's the highest income group, over $60,000, who showed the most support, with 34 percent.

So the poorest people are half as likely to approve of funding abortions for the poor as are the richest people. And the poorest people are close to three times more likely to oppose funding abortions for the poor as are the richest people.

So why is it that it's the rich, not the poor, that are so enamored of abortions for the poor? Is it that the rich want abortions for themselves, and therefore assume that the poor want the same thing? Or is there some other motive?


School Vouchers: A Rose by Other Name? is just one article that notes that lower income people are more strongly in favor of educational choice, including school vouchers.

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