Economists speak of the "law of unintended consequences." A person's actions can have consequences that are not anticipated, or unintended. Indeed, the consequences of our actions can turn out to be precisely the opposite of what we intended. So, a child will play with fire, thinking it is fun. The unintended result can be anything but fun.
Richard Neuhaus, ("While We're at It," First Things, November 2004, p. 77) brings up what might become a classic example of the inexorable operation of this law. He quotes a study by Larry Eastland in the June issue of the American Spectator. Let's take a look.
Postulate Number One: In America, about forty million children have been aborted since 1973, the year of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Had they not been aborted, many would be living—and voting—today. How many would be voting?
Notice the substantial growth rate in the number of "missing voters." They will never vote.
Postulate Number Two: Democrats have 40 percent more abortions than Republicans, according to a survey by Wirhlin Worldwide. The more one leans to the left, the more one is apt to have an abortion. Put differently: "The more liberal Democrats are, the more abortions they have; the more conservative Republicans are, the fewer abortions."
Postulate Number Three: Children share their parents' values. Hence, they tend to vote like their parents. There are exceptions, of course, but they are just that, exceptions, not the rule.
Putting these three postulates together, Eastland concludes:
The Democrats have given the Republicans a decided advantage in electoral politics, one that grows with each election. Moreover, it is an advantage that they can never regain. Even if abortion were declared illegal today, and every single person complied with the decision, the advantage would continue to grow until the 2020 election, and would stay at that level throughout the voting lifetime of most Americans living today.
There is nothing insubstantial about this advantage. Considering the demographics and the probable political leanings of missing voters in the 2000 election, "Gore would have won Florida by 45,366 votes instead of Bush winning by 537."
If the Supreme Court Justices' aim was to alter public policy forever by the Roe v. Wade decision, they certainly did accomplish their purpose. However, they probably did not plan to affect it by doing irreparable damage to the liberal Democrat Party. It is the Law of Unintended Consequences at work.
Did the Democrats hand President Bush another four years in office this November because of their sinful abortion license? Who can say for sure! Someone will crunch the number in the next few months. Yet, one thing is certain: Sin hurts—no way around it. Though you may not intend the penalty, "be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
- Charles Whitaker
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