Schaerr Tactics: Could Same-Sex Marriage Increase Abortions?

Gene Schaerr is bringing a new argument to the Supreme Court concerning same-sex marriage. He thinks legalizing same-sex marriage could lead to 900,000 new abortions. Does that connection seem random? Here’s how Schaerr came up with it:

Legalizing same-sex marriage devalues marriage and causes fewer heterosexual couples to marry, which leads to a larger number of unmarried women, who have abortions at higher rates than married women. As a result, Schaerr wrote, “nearly 900,000 more children of the next generation would be aborted as a result of their mothers never marrying. This is equal to the entire population of the cities of Sacramento and Atlanta combined.”

There are so many problems with this argument. You probably already know that. But let’s just go through them for fun.

First, the causal link here is tenuous at best. It’s hard to say whether same-sex marriage reduces the heterosexual marriage rate or whether states with already low heterosexual marriage rates are just more likely to legalize same-sex marriage. Further, it’s not necessarily the case that the birth rate and the marriage rate are independent. The conception rate might just end up going down with the marriage rate.

Second, abortion is legal, and it’s not even frowned upon by most proponents of same-sex marriage. People might not want to increase it, but that’s not a terribly compelling reason to ban same-sex marriage. So Schaerr’s argument really only convinces the already convinced. If you’re against same-sex marriage, learning about this “causal link” to abortion might further entrench your position. But it won’t do anything for someone who wants to give same-sex marriage the same legal status as abortion.

Usually, when you are trying to convince someone, you want to use the promotion of something they like or the discouragement of something they hate. So, for instance, Schaerr might have said that banning same-sex marriage will result in fewer homosexual divorces or that legalizing same-sex marriage will mean the decline of a long and illustrious history of gay transgressive protest art. As it is, Schaerr’s argument probably convinced zero same-sex marriage advocates. It might have even swung some formerly indifferent bystanders to the same-sex marriage side.

But the worst part of this whole thing is that, by making this useless and irrelevant argument, Schaerr has created an ideal straw effigy to be destroyed by same-sex marriage advocates. Now, they don’t actually have to deal with any real arguments or differences of opinion. All they need to do now is bring up this Schaerr tactic to show how opponents to same-sex marriage are all fear-mongering, illogical, mad dogs who need to be put out of their misery.

So, is it possible to stop making stupid arguments for good causes? Thanks, that would be great.