Talk:Roe effect

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see also Autopoiesis?

maybe survival of the fittest is more appropriate? - Omegatron 13:11, Apr 18, 2005 (UTC)

This article is ridiculous, its just idle speculation by ONE columnist, which doesn't make it much of a fact...there are a lot of little theories columnists and thinkers come up with. That doesn't make them notable. In fact, I just came up with one now. The condom effect. Condom users are going to become less frequent, therefore... sigh. I don't have the energy to really challenge this article, but i can't imagine it will last long protohiro 23:51, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Right on. One phrase in particular seems ridiculous - "Children usually follow their parents' political leanings." Ron Reagan, Maya Keyes, I could go on. --Josh Atkins (talk - contribs) 21:22, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

I'd like to put out another call for improvements. Has anyone seen an article that refutes this theory? Obviously it has some pretty serious flaws. (like, how heritable are voting patterns? how common are abortions among republican voters, etc) protohiro 21:51, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Afd failed[edit]

Per Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Roe_effect. --Woohookitty(cat scratches) 16:40, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

New version[edit]

After User:BCSWowbagger pointed out (in this edit's summary) that the external links were poorly formatted, I tried to improve them and ended up rewriting the whole article. (The are no problems with the external links section in my version, mainly because it doesn't have one!).

The Roe effect is a theory about the long-term effect of abortion on the political balance of the United States. It is named after Roe v. Wade, the court case which effectively legalized abortion nationwide. Its best-known proponent is James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal who named this theory in Best of the Web Today, his column.

Put simply, the theory states that

  • those who favor legal abortion are much more likely to get one than those who oppose it,
  • since children usually follow their parents' political leanings,
  • therefore pro-choice parents will tend to have fewer children
  • so support for legal abortions will decline over time.

A similar argument suggests that political groups which oppose abortion will tend to have more supporters in the long run than those who support it. See "The Roe Effect: The right to abortion has diminished the number of Democratic voters" by Taranto (Wall Street Journal, July 6 2005) for a detailed explanation and statistical evidence that supports the theory.

Taranto first mentioned this idea in January 2003[1], and named it in December 2003.[2] He later suggested that the Roe effect helps explain (and is confirmed by) the fact that the fall in teen birthrates is "greatest in liberal states, where pregnant teenagers would be more likely to [have abortions] and thus less likely to carry their babies to term."[3]

The Journal has also published articles about this this topic by Larry L. Eastland ("The Empty Cradle Will Rock", June 28 2004) and Arthur C. Brooks ("Liberal/Conservative Fertility Gap", August 22 2006).

See also


One of my aims was to make the link to Taranto's main article about the effect more prominent, given that earlier commenters on this page seem to missed it.

I thought I'd seek comments and improvements from other editors before making such a major change to the article. Thanks in advance, CWC(talk) 02:19, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

I think you're too modest. The article as is barely survived an AfD last year, and I doubt it would do so today. I'm going to be bold and post your version. Hope you don't mind. --BCSWowbagger 03:23, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
I still don't like the way the links are placed, and I think there's more history to the theory than Taranto, though he definitely coined the phrase. And we could stand to discuss the validity of the theory, scientifically speaking. So, there's still improvement to be made, but you just had us leap forward. Thanks. --BCSWowbagger 03:44, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

  • sigh* I hate how everyone always assumes that Pro-Choice is equivelant to "Pro Death" or "Anti Life". A Pro-Choice woman doesn't invariably choose to have an abortion whenever she finds herself pregnant. While she might have one at a point in life when it's unsuitable, she might go on to have three children later in life. She could be Pro-Choice and never have an abortion, and have kids. It's Pro-Choice. Graaaargh. Darien Shields 02:54, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure what this has to do with anything. There doesn't have to be a one-to-one correspondence between being pro-choice and having abortions, merely that someone who is pro-choice is more likely to have an abortion than someone who is not. Over the whole population, that disparity has an impact. Follow the links and look at the data, you see that there is a "fertility gap". Calling it a fertility gap highlights the point, also, in the hypothetical you present: delaying childbirth reduces the number of suitable childbearing years that a woman is fertile, so a woman who waits until later is less likely to have three, or four, or five, children than a woman who has them starting earlier.Tommythegun 07:28, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
  • The hereditary aspects of political behavior questioned above are only a part of the issue but there is new research in the area, e.g.:

Wall Street Journal, The Biology of Ideology, Studies Suggest Many of Our Political Choices May Be Traced to Genetic Traits, Sep 4, 2008. [4] Quote:

Last week, at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Boston, (Dr. Fowler) presented research with colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Virginia Commonwealth University suggesting a link between variations of one gene affecting the neurochemical dopamine, which can help sensitize us to new experiences, and a tilt toward liberal political ideology.

The science is in its infancy but there is biological research into changes in socio-political patterns. The Roe Effect theory describes one of them. Longhorncross (talk) 08:07, 6 September 2008 (UTC)


Narrow focused article about a belief that is not widely held. There are college theses with broader and more notable scope than this. Propose deletion. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 14:33, 1 May 2007 (UTC).

Agreed, this theory doesn't seem to have much popular support. Perhaps merge with James Taranto? Joie de Vivre 16:54, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
No! No! No!
See Wikipedia:Consensus.
2 minutes is not enough time to establish consensus, and 0 supports (anons don't count) is not enough consensus. (See also the Wikipedia:Straw polls guidelines.)
Another problem: James Taranto is only one of the OpinionJournal writers who've supported this theory, and Brooks and Eastland are much more intellectually prominent.
Worse still, whether a theory has popular support is irrelevant. (We have an article on White supremacy, you know.)
I've reverted the merge. Please do not repeat this mistake. CWC 17:45, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Its been here for years now and it is still narrow and lacks widespread support. Propose deletion (talk) 01:06, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

New study[edit]

There's a new study from sociologists at Northwestern University about whether attitudes on abortion are correlated with fertility. It concluded that pro-life women do indeed have more children on average, which seems to support the Roe effect hypothesis (as one of the objections is that a pro-choice woman, although more likely to abort an unintended pregnancy than a pro-life woman, will nevertheless aim for the same family size and not have significantly fewer births). This should probably be worked into the article. (talk) 21:05, 12 August 2014 (UTC)