Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, July 13, 2007

WSJ on Abortion Opinion Shift

Pro Ecclesia links to a piece in the WSJ OpinionJournal dealing with the shifting demographics of abortion opinion:
Overbrook Research, an Illinois-based polling firm, has a fascinating study out on public opinion and abortion. Authors Christopher Blunt and Fred Steeper analyze opinon-poll data from the bellwether state of Missouri between 1992 and 2006, focusing on voters' answers to the question whether they regard themselves as "pro-life" or "pro-choice."

The finding: Public opinion has moved strongly in the "pro-life" direction. In 1992, 34% of Missouri voters described themselves as "strongly pro-choice"; by 2006 this figure had declined to 23%. The proportion describing themselves as "strongly pro-life" rose from 26% to 36%. When those describing themselves as "somewhat" pro-whatever are included, the "pro-life" rise is 11 percentage points (30% to 41%), and the "pro-choice" decline is 13 points (43% to 30%).
The author, James Taranto, has been writing for some time about what he calles the Roe Effect:
It was in 1973 that the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, found a "constitutional" right to abortion, effectively legalizing the practice nationwide. By 1992 the oldest post-Roe babies were only 19. In 2006, by contrast, the entire 18- to 29-year-old cohort had been born after Roe.

If one makes the reasonable assumptions that "pro-life" women have a lower propensity to abort than "pro-choice" ones do, and that parents are a strong influence on their chlidren's moral attitudes, then one would expect the post-Roe cohort to be more "pro-life" than their elders.
Also of interest, the article quotes authors of the study who speculate that the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act actually helped the pro-life movement significantly, as it helped surpress the fringe elements of the pro-life movement who's approach to advocacy was quite frankly, un-Christian:
In the 1980s and early 1990s, there were dozens of attacks against abortion clinics and the physicians who perform abortions. According to one official government count, between 1977 and 1993, there were at least 36 bombings, 81 arsons, 131 death threats, 84 assaults, 327 clinic invasions, 71 chemical attacks, and over 6,000 blockades of clinic entrances. In response, in 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. . . .

The law worked. Threatened by stiff new federal penalties, Operation Rescue and other vocal anti-abortion groups abruptly ceased their clinic blockades. Dramatic demonstrations and arrests gave way to peaceful prayer vigils and sidewalk counseling.

As antiabortion violence abated, the violence of abortion itself took a higher profile. In 1996 Congress approved the first federal bill to outlaw partial-birth abortion--in which the abortionist partially delivers a baby before taking its life--but opponents of the bill had enough votes to sustain President Clinton's veto. Partial-birth abortion remained at the center of the debate for more than a decade. This past April the Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
If memory serves, FACE doesn't deserve all the credit. There were some very strong efforts going on within the pro-life movement to make it clear what was and was not acceptible advocacy. But the end result, of cleansing the pro-life movement of violence in order to underline the inherent violence of abortion itself, was a major good -- whatever the combination of causes.


Donald R. McClarey said...

The pro-abort movement will go down in history as one of the few political causes that intentionally did its very best to destroy family members of its adherents. I have read statements by more than one of the pro-abort fanatics expressing a wish that abortion had been legal when they were young so they could have iced one or more of their kids. Sick doesn't even begin to capture the twisted evil of the pro-abort cause.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

I wonder about the "Roe Effect." This is mere anecdotal evidence, based on self-reporting, but the women I have met who have had abortions fall into two camps: (1) middle-class women who had a single abortion pre-marriage, but went on to get married and have 2-3 children; and (2) low-income single mothers who have had multiple pregnancies and sometimes chosen to abort, sometimes chosen to have the baby, but nearly always end up with more born children than middle-class women.

In both cases, born children have outnumbered abortions. In the latter case, the women who appear (again, I know the plural of "anecdote" is not "data") to have the most abortions are also the women who have the most babies. If this is in general the case, we should expect to see *more* of the population coming from a social background that says abortion is a reasonable response to pregnancy.

Darwin said...

Well, only if the two anecdotal groups that you describe:

a) pass on positive opinions about getting an abortion to their children


b) have more children on average than those women who pass on negative opinions about getting an abortion to their children

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

In my experience with lower-income women, (b) is true, and as for (a), I would guess that example speaks more loudly than articulated opinions. So, yes and yes.

Speaking of babies, I go in Monday for the c-section. Keep us in your prayers!

CMinor said...

Best wishes, Opinionated, and I will.

It'd be hard to draw conclusions without figures on the opinions of women who have aborted, but it doesn't seem that the pro-aborts' repeated efforts to mobilize them for activism have ever been highly successful. I'd bet on a sizeable percentage of these women being either actively or passively pro-life because of their experience or being reluctant to promote the practice (despite being nominally pro-choice) because of ambivalent feelings about it.

O.H.'s description of the "Roe effect" does, however, make me wonder if post-abortion women are prone to "atonement babies," or in the case of those who aren't atoning, an assertion of their maternalism via the subsequent birthing of more than the averaage number of children.