ABC News Criticized for Promoting Author Who Says Abortion Reduces Crime

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

ABC News Criticized for Promoting Author Who Says Abortion Reduces Crime Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 17,

New York, NY ( — ABC News is drawing criticism for promoting a controversial author with a refuted claim that legalized abortion has helped reduce the level of crime in the United States. "Freakonomics" co-author Stephen Dubner appeared on Thursday’s "Good Morning America" program even though other researchers have disproved his contention.

During the interview, Dubner repeated the abortion-crime claims.

"What happened when Roe V. Wade was handed down was that unwanted children are basically at a much greater risk for being born into the circumstances where they’re more likely to lead a criminal life," he said. "Not every unwanted child by a long stretch, but typically."

But Scott Whitlock, who writes for the Media Research Center’s blog Newsbusters, says ABC News’ Robin Roberts never questioned his assertion or mention that it has been challenged since Dubner and his economist co-author Steven Levitt wrote their book.

In fact, as has reported, an August 2007 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.

This occurred because a higher percentage of children grew up in single-parent homes during the years following Roe v. Wade.

The findings were 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. Lott and John Whitley, affiliated with the University of Chicago, first wrote a paper in August 2006 challenging claims that abortion led to less crime.

Yet Whitlock points out that Dubner simply told Roberts, "It’s good to know what forces work in society, if for no other reason than to keep doing the right thing."

"The right thing, one presumes he means, is to keep aborting children," Whitlock said.

"When someone makes a statement as incendiary as calling abortion a solution to crime, it behooves those individuals at ABC and ‘Good Morning America’ to feature a counter-balancing position," he added.

A second study, in November 2005, saw Christopher Foote, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and research assistant Christopher Goetz, saying 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," Foote and Goetz say in their report.