Polling Life
Reading Gallup’s latest abortion polling.

(© 2012 Gallup, Inc.)


Much of the recent legal and policy agenda of the pro-life movement has likewise emphasized commonsense measures that command support across the political spectrum. Examples include laws promoting informed consent and parental involvement, and laws banning particularly gruesome forms of abortion.

By contrast, the abortion-rights movement is, to its own detriment, increasingly shrill, dogmatic, and extreme. It has aggressively opposed even the most modest efforts (some noted above) to limit abortion. HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius (speaking before NARAL Pro-Choice America) recently declared that she and the sympathetic audience of abortion-rights proponents “are in a war” with those who would defend unborn children. The Obama administration regularly speaks of a “war against women.” At the same time, the administration has stripped Medicaid funds (needed to provide health care to the poor) from states that have voted to withhold tax dollars from entities that provide abortions; terminated federal grants for highly successful programs offering aid to victims of sex trafficking (because the Catholic agencies involved do not provide or refer for abortions); and mandated that nearly every employer in America provide employee health plans that cover drugs that can function as abortifacients (e.g., EllaOne).

Lessons for the future? Pro-lifers should continue their current course of changing hearts and minds by speaking truth in charity and offering concrete aid to unborn children, their mothers, and women suffering from past abortions. At the same time, the law (which both reflects and teaches) must be brought into alignment with the growing realization that all persons, born or unborn, have immeasurable worth in virtue of who they are as members of the human family.

— O. Carter Snead is a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame.

America is a fundamentally pro-life country. That essential truth has been obscured in the recent past by an abortion lobby that has succeeded in presenting a moderate face to the American public.

President Obama attempted to maintain the faux-friendly face of the abortion industry by beginning his administration with language about seeking “common ground” on abortion. But at the same time, his administration has pursued an aggressively pro-abortion policy agenda.

The gap between the rhetoric and reality is finally becoming clear to a larger percentage of the American public. An unregulated, poorly monitored abortion industry has lived for many years in the uneasy space created by Americans’ unwillingness to categorically denounce abortion when others choose it, while at the same time feeling deep moral discomfort, or complete rejection, of abortion for themselves or their loved ones.

With a series of radical pro-abortion moves, culminating in the abortion mandates in Obamacare, that uneasy space has drastically destabilized. Americans have begun to understand that the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade is underway — and that they will be forced to subsidize the abortion agenda, whether they like it or not. 

That kind of destabilization can cause shifts in opinion polling as Americans look for a way to make their voices heard. During the health-care debate, we learned that seven in ten Americans — whether pro-life or pro-choice — do not support subsidizing abortion with their tax dollars. News of the abortion mandate in the health-care exchanges and a mandate for abortion-inducing drugs in the preventive-care requirements are cause for alarm among Americans who might not otherwise be mobilized on the life issue. It is perhaps significant that these new polling numbers appear in the same week that numerous Catholic institutions filed suit to protect their First Amendment right of religious liberty from government officials who would deny them the right to make a choice other than abortion.

The abortion lobby has overreached in its arrogant attempts to impose — and fund — its own ideological agenda. The polling data demonstrate a shift away from the uneasy stasis: A radical movement is forcing people to take sides in the great moral debate of our generation.

And most Americans choose life.

— Charmaine Yoest is president of Americans United for Life.