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NRL News
Page 3
October 2009
Volume 36
Issue 10


BY Wanda Franz, Ph.D.

Public Opinion Is Increasingly Pro-Life

Recently, Americans have become more opposed to legal abortion. New analysis of combined Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the past three years shows that in 2007 and 2008, supporters of abortion rights clearly outnumbered opponents of abortion (those saying it should be illegal in most or all cases) by a 54%-40% margin. In contrast, in two major surveys conducted in 2009 among a total sample of more than 5,500 adults, views of abortion are about evenly divided, with 47% expressing support for legal abortion and 44% expressing opposition. …

Declines in support for legal abortion are seen among a wide variety of demographic groups. … [B]oth men and women currently express less support for legal abortion than they did in 2007/2008 [not so for Democratic women, however (65% for legal abortion in 2007/2008 vs. 64% in 2009)]. Similarly, both whites and Hispanics have become significantly less pro-choice. …

The poll finds that four-in-ten Americans are unaware of Obama’s position on the abortion issue. Conservative Republicans, however, are more likely than any other group to know Obama’s position, with 75% correctly identifying him as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life.” …

When it comes to specific restrictions, Americans overwhelmingly support requiring women under age 18 to get consent from at least one parent before having an abortion (76%). … Even among those who say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, 71% favor parental consent.

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, October 1, 2009

These findings about an opinion shift in the pro-life direction are supported by a USA Today/Gallup poll from July 2009 where 47% of respondents identified themselves as pro-life vs. 46% as “pro-choice.” In 1995, only 33% called themselves pro-life, while 56% claimed to be “pro-choice.”

Gallup also has a long-running poll series asking under what circumstances abortion should be legal.

In 1994, 33% thought that abortion should be “legal under any circumstances,” and 13% wanted it to be “legal under most circumstances.” The custom of pollsters is to combine these two figures as the “pro-choice” position: a total of 46% in this case. In the same year, the pollster’s total “pro-life” tally was 51%; that is, 38% wanted abortion to be “legal in a few circumstances” and 13% wanted it “illegal in all circumstances.”

Since then, NRLC originated and pursued an intensive campaign to ban partial-birth abortions as well as campaigns for various state laws—all of which refocused the public’s attention from vapid pro-abortion slogans, such as “who decides,” onto the stark realities of the abortion slaughter.

By July 2009, the numbers had changed significantly. The total “pro-choice” figure had declined to 34% (21% for “legal under any circumstances” and 13% for “legal under most circumstances”). In contrast, the total “pro-life” number had risen to 60% (42% for “legal only in a few circumstances” and 18% for “illegal in all circumstances”).

The pro-life trend of the opinion polls raises the question of what women are actually doing with regard to abortion as opposed to what the general public (women and men, young and old, etc.) thinks about it.

The Abortion Rate Is Decreasing

There is a statistical measure that tells us how likely it is for a woman to have an abortion. It is the abortion rate, expressed as the number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (age 15-44).

After the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the abortion rate rose briskly from 16.3 (some states had already legalized abortion) to a peak of 29.3 in 1980 (the statistics are based on data published by the Guttmacher Institute). But in 1980-81, the abortion rate rather abruptly changed course and from then on steadily declined by over 33% to 19.4 in 2005 (the latest available figure). Over the same time interval, the number of women of childbearing age rose by over 16%.

Unfortunately, a subgroup of women looks at abortion as a form of birth control. Hence, the abortion rate includes repeat abortions (at least more than one). When we subtract the number of repeat abortions, then we find that the abortion rate for a single abortion dropped by nearly 47% for the time span 1980-2005.

Clearly, after all the educational work of pro-lifers, after women’s own experience with abortion, and after the arrival of routine ultrasound imaging of children in the womb—a woman today is much less likely to resort to abortion.

America has become more pro-life!

A Pro-Abortion Congress Wants to Promote Abortion through “Health Care Reform”

The pro-abortion leadership of the Democratic Party is completely unmoved by opinion polls and statistics that show that Americans have swung to the pro-life side. Dr. David O’Steen, NRLC’s executive director, said it best:

Just as the country is becoming more and more pro-life, the pro-abortion Democratic Congressional leadership is pushing to remake the entire American health care system in a way that would provide massive funding for abortion. Clearly, that is not what Americans want.”

There has never been a poll that showed that Americans want government to promote abortions and pay for them with your taxes. The pro-abortion leadership of the Democratic Party knows that, of course. Hence, they are resorting to sleight-of-hand maneuvers with health care reform as their tool.

These shenanigans have repeatedly been exposed by Douglas Johnson, NRLC’s director of federal legislation. He observed that “the proposed new pro-abortion programs are badly out of sync with public opinion, which is why Congressional Democratic leaders and President Obama are trying to smuggle them into law behind smokescreens of contrived language and outright misrepresentations.”

Go to the action box in this copy of NRL News and tell Congress what you want.