Anti-abortion restrictions should be designed to raise “the costs” of abortions in order to discourage women from obtaining them, a prominent scholar for a leading anti-abortion group told an audience of social conservative activists in Washington last weekend.
Abortion rights advocates have long suspected that the purpose of restrictive abortion laws is to impede access to abortion. Anti-abortion advocates generally refuse to concede the point, countering that laws that require women to make multiple trips to the abortion clinic, for instance, are intended to help women make informed choices. But speaking at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of religious conservatives sponsored by the Family Research Council and other conservative groups, anti-abortion scholar Michael J. New veered from abortion foes’ traditional argument when he specifically advocated policies to raise “the costs” of abortions.
“The best thing you can do when you get home is support a variety of state pro-life bills, and essentially, if your state has them, they can be strengthened,” New, a University of Michigan-Dearborn professor who is an adjunct scholar for the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute, said during a September 15 presentation at the summit. “You can defund abortion by stopping Medicaid funding or by defunding Planned Parenthood. You can strengthen parental-involvement laws, by requiring both parents to be involved. You can strengthen informed-consent laws: Require the woman to see an ultrasound, or require two trips to the clinic. That raises the costs; that stops the abortion from happening. You can lengthen the waiting period. Don’t be like the other states that do 24, 48, 72 hours. Do it for nine months—that’ll stop abortions in your state. I guarantee it.”
The Charlotte Lozier Institute was founded in 2011 as the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee that works to elect abortion rights opponents to Congress. The Lozier Institute has been touted as the abortion rights opponents’ response to the Guttmacher Institute, a policy group once affiliated with Planned Parenthood that produces research on abortion laws and policy and is often cited by lawmakers, scholars, and journalists on both sides of the abortion debate.
New, who is also a fellow for the conservative Witherspoon Institute, said his research has found a correlation between states’ anti-abortion legislation and declines in abortion—among 47 states that reported data in 1990 and 2005, he said the number of abortions dropped by about 22 percent.
Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager of the Guttmacher Institute, told The American Independent that although abortion restrictions that lead to higher costs for women might have the effect of reducing abortion rates in those states, these laws don’t address the broader issue.
“None of these restrictions reduces the need for abortion,” Nash said. “This is all about abortion and has nothing to do with reducing unintended pregnancy.”