In his contrast of marriage, sex and childbirth patterns in red and blue states, Ross Douthat notes that more liberal states' lower rates of teen and out-of-wedlock birth depend in part on heavier recourse to abortion.
How can blue states retain their more stable marriage and childbirth practices while reducing abortion? One partial answer is universal health care. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this March finds that abortion rates declined significantly during the first two years that Massachusetts implemented its comprehensive health insurance plan. In the same vein, T.R. Reid observed in a Washington Post op-ed that wealthy countries with universal health care all have far lower abortion rates than those prevalent in the U.S.
In a March 21 column, Douthat grouped Reid's implicit claim that the health reform bill would reduce the U.S. abortion rate with other "liberal" claims about the bill's likely good effects and concluded, "As a conservative, I suspect they're wrong." He did add that as an American he hope that he himself was wrong, since the bill would become law.
I trust that as an opponent of abortion, Douthat particularly hopes he's wrong about the new health reform law's long-term effects on that front.