As the co-authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, we often give talks about the recent rise in what’s called the “nonmarital birthrate,” or the idea that more than 40 percent of children are now born to women who aren’t married. Sometimes at our talks someone will come up to us, confess his or her encounter with single parenthood, and say something like: “When my daughter got pregnant and decided to keep the child, we were OK with that because we are Christians. When she decided not to marry the father, we were relieved because we knew he would be bad for her and the marriage would never work.” ...So the social acceptance of single motherhood has spread to pro-life Christians? This is not a trend that will be reversed anytime soon.
Researchers have considered many reasons for the rise in the nonmarital birthrate — the welfare state, the decline of morals, the increasing independence of women, even gay marriage. But one that people on neither the left nor the right talk about much is how it’s connected to abortion. ...
The big increase in African-American nonmarital births occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. For whites, the development has been more recent, and it has occurred at the same time as the emergence of anti-abortion sentiment as a key constituent of conservative political identity. Has the hardening of anti-abortion attitudes among white working-class conservatives helped cause the increase in white nonmarital births? Did it contribute to the erosion of the stigma on nonmarital births?
As scholars, while we suspect that the answer is yes, we have to admit that we have no definitive data.
Of course abortion is not the only way to avoid being a single mom.