Friday, January 18, 2008

Jim Wallis on Abortion

Jim Wallis's new book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America, will be published by HarperOne next week on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Here is Ramesh Ponnuru regarding Wallis on abortion:
Every time I read him on this subject, I get the impression that he is running for something. It's not because his remarks don't make logical sense. They don't, but coherence as a thinker on any topic is not his gift. It's because they always seem carefully evasive. His new book looks like a rehash of his old one, plus a foreword by Jimmy Carter. Its discussion of abortion follows the same personally-opposed-plus-Bible-quotes track that he has lately traveled.

He is even repeating the same discredited "facts." Here he is on p. 193: "The abortion rate actually declined a little during the Clinton administration, likely because of the improved status of low-income women, which is a consistent causal factor in diminishing the choice for abortion. But the abortion rate went up again in the Bush years, likely with the decreasing status of low-income women and families."

Clinton did a number of good things as president—including welfare reform, which Wallis was arrested for protesting against. All of this stuff about "a consistent causal factor" is, however, sheep dip, and the abortion rate didn't go up under Bush administration. For a little while, some gullible people, mostly liberals, were persuaded that it did, thanks to a shoddy study published by Wallis's magazine. (The gullible included Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean.) None of the authoritative sources of abortion statistics that have come out since then have corroborated this finding, and most people have dropped the talking point. Not Wallis.