Editor, The Beacon:
There is much discussion on the short-term impact of forced birth laws. There was the Kansas vote, then the Wisconsin Supreme Court vote. Polls show that Democrats are likely to make significant gains in 2024 riding on the 2-to-1 public support for legal abortion.
There are also long-term demographic impacts. In 2021, there were 3,664,000 births in the U.S. and 930,000 legal abortions. Of those pregnancies, 20 percent were legally aborted.
Forced birth laws will have little impact on the number of births and abortions. Before Roe and in spite of their illegal status, estimates are that between 20 percent and 25 percent of all pregnancies were aborted. As you can see, the illegal rate back then was similar if not a little higher than the current rate.
Women in states with strict abortion laws travel to other states. Blue border states are flooded with patients. Others obtain abortion pills through the mail.
Laws to stop pills will fail. We can’t stop bales of smelly marijuana used daily, good luck stopping pills used for a few days. No society has ever stopped women from aborting, regardless of the law.
But let’s assume there will be fewer abortions, even if the number is small. Who is least likely to abort and carry the fetus to term? An obvious group is poor women with lesser means to travel out of state. Racially, that includes more Black and Hispanic women, who are both poorer and a greater percentage in the southeastern states with Republican-controlled governments. We can expect these populations to increase their higher birthrates over white women. The trend toward a white minority population will increase faster than current models predict.
Politically this is good news for Democrats. Registered Democrats are 41 percent people of color, compared to 14 percent of Republicans. As these Democratic-leaning youngsters reach voting age, older folks, who disproportionately vote Republican, are falling off the cliff.
The Republican fear of education is real. College graduates increased from 12 percent in 1972 to 38 percent today, and they vote for Democrats (41 percent) more than Republicans (29 percent).
Finally, there is urbanization. One of the largest political divides is between rural/small towns and larger urban/suburban areas. In 1950, 70 percent of us lived in urban areas. Today, more than 86 percent live in urban areas, and these people vote more for Democrats.
With gerrymandering and voting restrictions, pockets of Republicans will be able to stay in power for the near future. But unless they change their politics on issues like abortion, gun control, health care and racial/gender issues, they won’t survive the demographic trends.