Abortion and Child Abuse
I’ve been doing some research lately on the relationshipbetween abortion and child abuse. Some believe, in theory, that legalized abortion should have had the effect of reducing child abuse. The theory goes:“unwanted” children are normally the objects of abuse; if we reduce the numberof unwanted children by making abortion available, child abuse will decrease.The data, however, very plainly shows that child abuse has not decreased butincreased since abortion was legalized. From 1980 to 1993, the childmaltreatment estimates rose 149%, from 625,100 cases to 1,553,800. Since 1993,that number has dropped, leveled off, and remained around 900,000 for the last10 years. (Go to www.childwelfare.gov to view the statistics yourself). How legalized abortion relates to thesenumbers is hard to say. Researchers are all over the map on how to analyze thedata, since a great number of variables can explain increases and decreases inchild abuse rates.
At any rate, as I was doing my research, I came across anarticle published in 1979 in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry called “Relationship Between Abortion and ChildAbuse,” by Dr. Philip Ney. He argued that not only has legalized abortion not reduced child abuse but potentially may do the opposite. In the article, helisted eight possible psychological mechanisms whereby allowing for abortioncould increase the likelihood for child abuse on individual and societallevels. They are as follows:
1) Having an abortion may decrease an individual’s instinctualrestraint against the occasional rage felt those dependent on her care.
2) Allowing infants to die by permissive abortion might diminishthe social taboo against aggressing the defenseless.
3) By lessening children’s confidence in their parents’ care,abortion may increase the hostility between the generations which may becomeviolent.
4) By discarding nondefective unborn children wholesale, abortionmay devalue children, thus diminishing the importance of caring for children.
5) When abortion increases guilt and self-hatred, the parent maydisplace it onto a child.
6) A woman’s choice for abortion increases the hostilefrustration of some men, intensifying the battle of the sexes, for whichchildren are scapegoated.
7) Abortion of the first pregnancy may truncate the initialdeveloping mother-infant bond, thereby diminishing future mothering capability.
8) A previous abortion may result in the depression whichinterferes with the mother’s capacity to bond to her new-born.
Dr. Ney concluded his article with a concern that by“disrupting the primary species-preserving mechanism” (i.e., the nurturingcapacity of the womb) abortion could be endangering humanity. Interestingly, arecent study by professors from Bowling Green University found that woman whohad a previous abortion were 144% more likely to physically abuse theirchildren. (Go here: http://www.washtimes.com/news/2005/nov/02/20051102-110138-9468r/).Perhaps we are seeing some of Dr. Ney’s theories prove to be true…