More on Abortion and Murder Debate

Mr. Lott has difficulties with both Mr. Levitt’s data and his conclusion.

If Mr. Levitt’s theory was correct, crime rates should have started falling among younger people who were first born after the legalization of abortion, he said. He says his data shows that the opposite is true: murder rates during the 1990s first started falling for the oldest criminals and last for the youngest.

Mr. Lott said some of Mr. Levitt’s data came from an organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood and assumes that states went from a complete ban on abortion to complete legalization. However, abortions had been permitted in some cases before complete legalization. Mr. Lott’s data, from the Centers for Disease Control, shows that before the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973, many of the states that allowed abortions in limited circumstances actually had higher rates of abortion than states where abortion was legal.

The answer isn’t “anywhere near as cut and dry” as Mr. Levitt suggests, said Mr. Lott.

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