Taranto sums up the main thrust of the article in the subtitle:
The right to abortion has diminished the number of Democratic voters.This is primarily because the liberal wing of America is far more likely to have an abortion than the conservative wing. This is for a number of reasons. Liberals tend to be less religious to begin with, or, if they are religious, they feel that the religion should 'adjust' to today's times. They feel that the established religious practices were made hundreds or thousands of years ago when issues were different, the times were different, the people were different, etc. Whether religious or, more likely, not, they feel that abortion should be the choice of the mother.
I am not going to waste very much time and space debating the arguments for or against abortion: Suffice it to say that because they feel there is nothing wrong with abortion or that whatever is wrong is outweighed by the right of the mother to choose, it should be allowed. If it is not allowed, it is illegal, and then they presumably would not abort as a general rule, but if it were legal, they would. Conservatives, meanwhile, disagree - whether it is because they are generally more religious or just feel it is immoral in general, they will not perform an abortion even if it is allowed. They feel that the mother's wishes do not outweigh the murder of a child, even if the child is not yet alive, and that abortion should therefore be illegal for everyone.
This was true until 1973. In Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that abortions were to become legal. Since then, there have been over 40 million abortions in the United States. According to statistics, between 1973 and 1986, there were 19.1 million abortions. At this point comes a bit of speculation: Let's assume that 75% of the abortions were people on the left, versus 25% on the right. Also, most people tend to follow their parents in their political views. While not all, the predominant majority do, and even if there are people who do not it is hard to judge which direction more switch to - so let's call it even. Odds are, it is substantially more than 75%, but for now we'll use these numbers. That splits the abortions into about 14.325 million from the left, and 4.775 from the right. That's the total number of aborted babies who would have been 18 in 2004, and therefore eligible to vote.
Imagine a difference of 10 million votes in 2004 in favor of John Kerry - the difference is astounding. Even if less than half of them voted, the numbers would be far in favor of the Democratic party. This would have even been true in 2000, and Al Gore would have defeated President Bush easily. Looking ahead to 2008, the numbers of eligible voters that have not been born increases to over 25 million - close to (if not more than) 20 million of them likely Democrats. These numbers, in terms of an election, are further compounded by an excellent point Mr. Taranto makes:
The Roe effect would have made itself felt before post-Roe children even reachedTherefore, all children who have been aborted would have affected census counts, and therefore electoral votes. As of 2002, that amounts to over 42 million abortions. Assuming again that it is more often liberals who have abortions, and assuming again that it is at a 3:1 rate, that's almost 30 million Democrats vs. 10 million Republicans. This is further compunded by the fact that most Democrats live in states that vote Democrat (obviously). Therefore, the loss of 30 million is not only a loss in overall census numbers, but it weighted in states that they usually would carry in an election. Though the records aren't complete, it is estimated that New York has performed 6 million abortions, and California 8 million, since 1973. The difference in electoral votes in these states alone is more than enough to swing any election, without any more voters.
voting age. Children, after all, are counted in the population figures that
determine states' representation in Congress and the Electoral College.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is something Taranto touches on, but does not spend much time on.
The Roe effect is compounded over generations. Children who are never born doWhile it is a compounded effect, it is also an effect that lessens itself. The same groups of people who are likely to have an abortion would be the same ones whose kids would be likely to have an abortion - except they never had those kids. Therefore, while (for example) the numbers on the left would be decreasing, after about 18 years or so abortions too would decrease: there are less 18-year olds getting pregnant and deciding to have an abortion. (I picked 18 because it seems like a normal average age that people who would be having abortions would be getting pregnant.) Surprisingly enough, 1990 was the peak year in terms of abortions: a little over 1.6 million abortions were performed in the US that year. In 1991, 18 years after Roe vs. Wade, abortions began dropping; and have dropped in every year but one since - and that year it increased from 1.3594 million to 1.3602, or less than .06% - a stastical zero.
not have children or grandchildren.
When mentioning the Roe Effect to people, they remark, only half-jokingly, that Republicans should be pro-abortion then, as it helps them win elections. But they miss the point - Republicans feel abortion is wrong, regardless of whether it helps them or not politically. The reason some Republicans are still pro-abortion is that they feel there are exceptions that must be made to any anti-abortion law, such as rape, incest, death of the mother, etc. However anyone feels, however, as long as Roe vs. Wade remains the law, the Roe Effect will continue - and shift the country to the right.
While I feel that abortion in most cases is wrong [though as stated above there are many exceptions to the rule], there is a very fitting attitude to all abortions being legal in the United States: Gam zu l'tovah (this, too, is for good).