“There are so many of them, and they are so young.”
So spoke Nancy Keenan, President of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), as she described her awe and fear at the sight of the swarming masses of the new generation of pro-life activists at the 2010 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, Newsweek featured an article titled, “Remember Roe!,” which told the story of the dying era of abortion activism and the new age of pro-life America, rising up with politics, polls, science, technology, youth and culture on its side.
The Newsweek article forecasted that, if things keep going as they are now, Roe v. Wade and abortion activism will soon be nothing but a memory. It seems that the pro-abortion movement can’t rely on anyone these days – not the Democrats, not popular opinion, and certainly not the new generation of millennials.
For example, even with a Democratic President and congressional majority, Democrats could not take control the abortion issue during the recent health-care debate. With a number of Democrats espousing a pro-life position, the association of the Democratic Party with the pro-choice movement has gone the way of the do-do.
In addition to its lack of congressional leadership, the abortion movement as a whole suffers from a lack of new leadership. The leaders of NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization of Women (NOW) will retire in the next decade with no one to replace them. Self-proclaimed as part of the “postmenopausal militia,” Nancy Keenan was revealed in the Newsweek article as having “grown fearful about the future of her movement.” In the face of ardent pro-life enthusiasm demonstrated by the younger generations, “she just doesn’t see a passion among the post-Roe generation” for abortion activism.
You don’t have to look too far to find evidence of the growing pro-life trend among today’s youth. For example, the top-rated reality show, Kendra, followed the pregnancy and birth of the former Playboy superstar’s new baby. The show is currently centered around the star’s life as a new mother. Previously, movie stars and celebrities were rarely photographed when pregnant. Today, it seems that pregnancy and babies are the key to getting the celebrity spotlight and the attention of the reality TV-watching generation.
The disillusion of the youth with abortion activism can be explained very simply: both science and ethics support the pro-life argument.
The availability and use of ultrasound technology, along with recent scientific research on the ability of an unborn child to feel pain at 20 weeks gestation, has helped to reveal the humanity of the unborn child. Even with abortion rhetoric flying through the air, the truth about the humanity of the unborn speaks for itself when people are faced with cold, scientific facts and live ultrasound images of an unborn child with a heartbeat.
Kate Michelman, former NARAL President, stated that “technology has clearly helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being.”
The pro-choice movement has admitted that it can’t argue morality or ethics, either. Relying solely on the legal rhetoric of Roe v. Wade, they have historically and strategically avoided making moral arguments. The pro-life movement, on the other hand, has vigilantly kept the conversation on the morality of abortion alive through the years. It has fully-formed, well-thought ethical arguments to support its ideas, as well as experts who have spent a lifetime examining the ethical aspects of the life issue.
Branding the moral debate as “taboo” because of the possibility that doing so could bring faith and religion into the dialogue, the pro-choice movement has lost footing in the abortion battle. Their strategy of staying away from the moral debate did not help them in the long run, because they did not count on the new generation being so interested in the ethics and morality surrounding abortion. Keenan has publicly stated, “In our silence, we have ceded moral ground.”
NARAL’s own research poll found that the majority of young voters under 30 oppose abortion rights and consider the abortion issue as “very important” in their voting decisions. Significantly, the NARAL study found that young voters consider abortion to be immoral.
A Zogby International poll conducted from March 10-14, 2010 – more recent even than the polls cited in the Newsweek article – showed that Americans strongly favor all types of pro-life legislation that have been introduced in both state and federal legislatures, and believe that life begins at conception.
The Zogby poll included over 30,000 participants across 48 states, giving it a miniscule 0.6% margin of error and a very high level of accuracy.
The poll found:
• 59% agree that abortion ends a human life, only 29% disagree
• 50% agree that life begins at conception, only 19% agree that life begins at birth
• 71% disagreed that only pro-abortion justices should be confirmed, only 17% agreed
• 69% agree with laws that prohibiting federal funding of abortion, only 21% disagree
• 69% support parental notification for abortions on girls 16 or younger, 23% oppose
• 56% want 24-hour waiting periods for abortion, 37% oppose
• 64% favor laws that charge criminals with two crimes when both a pregnant woman and an unborn child are injured or killed, 23% disagree
• 69% support the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits use of federal funds for foreign abortions, 21% oppose
• 86% oppose sex-selection abortions, 10% support
• 56% oppose health insurance coverage for elective abortions, 12% support
* * *
In short, the Zogby poll confirms the pro-abortion movement’s greatest fears and supports the main conclusion of the Newsweek article: that the era of abortion activism will soon be bowing out to a generation of pro-life Americans who will then take the stage.