Lawrence P. Grayson
Abortion in America will be outlawed, and it will occur within the lifetimes of many of us – if we continue to work and pray for its demise. The signs are clear. Public attitudes are changing. Pro-life advocacy is increasing. Pro-abortion support is declining.
The battle for the hearts and minds in America is being won. A Rasmussen Reports survey, conducted this summer, found that 52 percent of likely voters now consider abortion to be morally wrong most of the time; only 32 percent believe abortion is morally acceptable in most cases.
In 1993, 20 years after the passage of Roe v. Wade, a CBS/New York Times poll found that 42 percent of the respondents thought abortion should be generally available to anyone who wanted it, 20 percent wanted it totally banned, while the remainder believed it should be available under more restrictive conditions. Similar surveys in the ensuing years showed a shift in public attitude away from virtually unbounded abortion. Then, in August of this year, a CBS News Poll found that over these two decades, support for generally available abortions declined to 36 percent, a six percent drop, while support for a total ban had risen to 26 percent, a six percent increase.
Further, surveys of specific conditions to limit abortions show strong support for pro-life positions. Rasmussen Reports polls conducted in 2013 and 2014 found that a plurality of likely voters favor a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, support a mandatory waiting period before a woman is allowed to get an abortion, and agree with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that business owners should be able to opt out of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate if it violates their religious beliefs.
Advances in science and technology are aiding the trend. With the increasing availability of ultrasound pictures and videos, coupled with advances in neonatology, more and more people recognize that the fetus is an early stage of an unborn child. They can see a human form developing at eight weeks, know that a child feels pain at 20 weeks, and have children survive outside of the womb at 24 weeks.
Changes in public attitude are leading to legislative victories. Since 2011, there have been 226 pro-life laws passed at the state level. A growing number of states now require women to undergo counseling, waiting periods or ultrasounds prior to obtaining abortions, and minors to obtain their parents’ consent to terminate pregnancies. Abortion clinics are being subject to stricter facilities requirements, and in eleven states abortionists must have admission privileges at local hospitals. These changes help women to make more informed decisions, and to improve the medical care they receive if they choose abortion.
The changing public perceptions, continuing pro-life advocacy, new pro-life laws, and advances in science and technology are having an effect on abortion availability. In 1991, there were 2,176 clinics that performed surgical abortions. According to AbortionDoc.com, there currently are only 574 such clinics, plus an additional 174 abortion-pill-only clinics, and these numbers are declining regularly. Further, abortionists are aging and not being replaced by young doctors who do not want to deal with public pro-life demonstrations. As a result, 89 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion clinics, and there is only one provider of surgical abortions in each of the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
The passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973 made abortion legal in America with virtually no restrictions. For the past 41 years, pro-life forces have been working successfully to limit its range. In January 2013, Time magazine ran a cover story titled, “40 years ago, abortion-rights activists won an epic victory with Roe v. Wade. They’ve been losing ever since.” The same theme has been echoed in other publications and by the leaders of several major pro-abortion organizations.
With their Supreme Court victory, the abortion lobby adopted the term pro-choice to describe their aims. As time passed, people recognized that pro-choice was a euphemism for abortion. The term has become stale and outdated. Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “I just think the ‘pro-choice’ language doesn’t really resonate particularly with a lot of young women voters.” This realization led her organization last year to formally drop the term “pro-choice,” as it seeks to enlist new supporters.
The future for continued pro-life gains looks bright. Young people show much more passion and intensity for pro-life issues than for pro -abortion. When Nancy Keenan resigned as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America in December 2012, she mentioned that at the national March for Life, she saw huge numbers of teenagers and young adults that she did not see at pro-abortion rallies. She remarked, “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young. There are so many of them, and they are so young.” An internal NARAL survey found that among voters under age 30 who support pro-life 51 percent state that opposing abortion is a "very important" voting issue compared with just 26 percent of equally young abortion backers. A May 2014 Gallup poll agreed, finding “more pro-life voters than pro-choice voters saying they will only back candidates who share their views,” 24 percent vs. 16 percent.
This intensity gap among teenagers and young voters bodes well for the pro-life movement. As Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, so pointedly stated: “Abortion numbers are down, pro-life sentiment is up. Laws are being enforced. Babies are being saved."
The moment is right and a complete victory can be achieved. Continue to work and pray for an end to abortion.
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Published September 2014