Friday, July 26, 2013

NYT Columnist Ross Douthat Defends Texas’s Abortion Restrictions by Comparing Texas to Ireland on Women’s Health

Is Ross Douthat the Dumbest Columnist Ever for the Times?

We Don’t Know, There Could be Dumber Conservatives Out There Waiting for the Times to Call

In order to defend restrictions on a woman’s right to choose an abortion, as opposed to the state dictating her choices New York Times conservative opinion writer draws on the experience of IrelandHis point, Ireland almost totally restricts abortion and yet women’s health in that country is good.
NY Times Columnist
Ross Douthat -
Did not major in logic in college

Meanwhile, international rankings offer few indications that Ireland’s abortion laws are holding Irish women back. The country ranks first for gender parity in health care in a recent European Union index. It was in the middle of the pack in The Economist’s recent “glass-ceiling index” for working women. It came in fifth out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap” report. (The United States was 22nd.)

Now one interesting thing here is that Mr. Douthat admits that in order to make a comparison one has to account for other variables that affect outcomes.

But there’s a problem with these comparisons: They don’t compare like to like, or control for the host of variables that separate, say, sub-Saharan Africa from the United States and Europe. They tell us that underdeveloped countries are more likely to ban abortion, but they don’t tell us whether those bans actually hold back progress and development.

To prove that case, you would need to look at how abortion restrictions play out in a wealthy, liberal and egalitarian society. Here two examples are instructive: Europe in general and Ireland in particular.

And then goes on to make this utterly ignorant statement.

So if liberal fears about the Texas legislation’s impact are correct, one would expect the Irish ban to have produced obvious, disastrous side effects. At the very least, one would expect Ireland to lag in female mortality, health and economic advancement.

No Mr. Douthat, one would not expect that because in order to do a proper, or even credible analysis one would have to control for the thousand or so other variable that affect women’s health and economic achievement.  And one would have to account for the differences in health care system, in particular where the Texas situation is abysmal as far as health insurance is concerned.  As Red Foreman, one of the great TV dads of all time would say, “What a dumbass.”

But let’s play Mr. Douthat’s game.  It turns out that alcohol consumption in Ireland and Europe with all those abortion restrictions is much higher than that of the United States.  So using Mr. Douthat’s logic it must be that restricting abortion causes alcoholism.  So in addition to restricting freedom, imposing unwanted controls by government on women’s health and dictating medical practices Texas will also be creating a huge number of alcoholics with its new abortion policies. 

Well that’s the conclusion everyone would reach using Mr. Douthat’s logic, assuming that there was some logic in his article.  


  1. It's obvious Douthat is a terrible columnist when he can't defeat his own straw man argument about "liberal fears" of Texas "plunging into misery."

    There is something appalling in nearly every paragraph of the column. I particularly disliked Douthat's offhand reference to Ireland being like Texas because pregnant Texans can simply travel to other states to get abortions, much like pregnant Irish women can go to Europe. Douthat takes it for granted that abortion is a privilege and can be reserved for those with means.

  2. The benefit from Douthat's column is the stream of marvelous comments, which tear apart Douthat's arguments from every conceivable direction. Columns like this do liberals a favor by exposing just how specious conservative arguments are.