Catholics for Obama-Biden answers that question with the following evidence:
- Findings from a 2007 study by Catholics United.
- Findings from a 2008 study by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
- A study by Rutgers University cited by Dr. James Kelly in Sociology of Religion.
- The claim that “three quarters of women say they cannot afford to have a child.”
Let’s examine these claims.
- The 2007 study is a non peer-reviewed report published by a political advocacy organization.
- The 2008 study is also a non peer-reviewed report by a political advocacy organization.
- The Rutgers study cited by Dr. Kelly is from his presidential address to the Association for the Sociology of Religion, published in their journal. The Rutgers study comprises two non peer-reviewed reports for the state of New Jersey on their welfare reforms. The first report itself finds “a ‘not statistically significant’ difference in abortion rates between welfare women in the experimental group and in the control group.” (Kelly, p. 108, fn 17) The second report finds a “small but non-trivial” effect of family caps on abortion rates among African-American women on welfare. (Kelly, p.109)
- The claim that “three quarters of women say they cannot afford to have a child” gives the impression that it is the only reason for 75% of abortions. This statistic is taken from a survey in which women could list multiple reasons for having abortions. “Of the 1,160 women who gave at least one reason, 89% gave at least two and 72% gave at least three; the median number of reasons given was four, and some women gave as many as eight reasons out of a possible 13.” (See Finer et al.)
This evidence is not sufficient to substantiate the claim that welfare programs, as whole, reduce the number of abortions. At most, this evidence would perhaps support the claim that caps to welfare benefits would would have a “small but non-trivial” effect on abortion rates among women on welfare.
Finer, Lawrence B., Lori F. Frohwirth, Lindsay A. Dauphinee, Susheela Singh and Ann M. Moore, “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” Pespectives on Reproductive and Sexual Health 37(3), Sep 2005.
Kelly, James R., “Sociology and Public Theology: A Case Study of Pro-Choice/ Prolife Common Ground,” Sociology of Religion, 60(2): 99-124, Summer 1999.