The Corner

Culture

Washington Post Highlights Pro-Life Millennials

Earlier this week, the Washington Post blog “The Fix” featured an article by Eugene Scott highlighting gains in pro-life sentiment among young adults. Scott cites a January 2017 Quinnipiac poll, which found that 18-to-34-year-olds were more likely than other age demographics to support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. This opposition to abortion among Millennials led Scott to conclude that, 45 years after the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the “culture battle over abortion is not over.” He added that some of the pressure to end legal abortion “will come from Millennial voters.”

These gains in pro-life sentiment among young people are even more interesting than many realize. During the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a significant generation gap in abortion attitudes. The elderly were considerably more likely to oppose legalized abortion than were young people. In fact, these disparities caused some political analysts to doubt the long-term viability of the pro-life movement. But in fact, the current generation of young adults is far more skeptical about abortion than were their predecessors.

The Quinnipiac poll Scott cites is far from an outlier. Two separate polls taken in the summer of 2013 by National Journal and Rasmussen both showed that young adults were more likely than other age demographics to support a 20-week abortion ban. Similarly, recent polling has shown that young adults are more likely than other age demographics to support the Department of Justice investigation of Planned Parenthood. Furthermore, polls taken of New York residents by the Chiaroscuro Foundation found that adults under age 40 were more likely to support a range of incremental pro-life laws, including waiting periods and parental-involvement laws.

The most compelling evidence about the shift in abortion attitudes among Millennials, though, comes from the General Social Survey (GSS), which is released every two years and is widely used by public-opinion scholars. The GSS has asked the same six questions on abortion since the early 1970s. It asks whether abortion should be legal option if 1) the woman is raped, 2) there is a strong chance of a fetal defect, 3) the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s health, 4) the woman is low-income, 5) the woman is unmarried and does not want to marry the man, and 6) the woman is married and does not want more children.

During the 1970s and 1980s, young adults were more likely than other demographics to think abortion should be a legal option in each of these circumstances. Starting around 2000, though, there was a significant shift in the attitudes of young adults. The GSS surveys taken after 2000 consistently show that young adults are actually the age demographic most likely to oppose abortion as a legal option in nearly all of these circumstances.

Even so, there are a few reasons for pro-lifers to be concerned. Young adults today are supportive of incremental pro-life laws and are more likely to oppose abortion in a range of circumstances, but they remain somewhat reluctant to identify as “pro-life.” Furthermore, polling data show that Millennials have not been particularly likely to support pro-life candidates or pro-life ballot propositions. That said, it is heartening to see the Washington Post accurately reporting about the significant gains in pro-life sentiment among young adults.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

Most Popular

White House

Another Warning Sign

The Mueller report is of course about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about the White House's interference in the resulting investigation. But I couldn’t help also reading the report as a window into the manner of administration that characterizes the Trump era, and therefore as another warning ... Read More
World

What’s So Great about Western Civilization

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter), One of the things I tell new parents is something that was told to me when my daughter still had that ... Read More
Film & TV

Jesus Is Not the Joker

Actors love to think they can play anything, but the job of any half-decent filmmaker is to tell them when they’re not right for a part. If the Rock wants to play Kurt Cobain, try to talk him out of it. Adam Sandler as King Lear is not a great match. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. He’s playing Jesus ... Read More
White House

The Mueller Report Should Shock Our Conscience

I've finished reading the entire Mueller report, and I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel's Office. We've become accustomed to Trump making up ... Read More
U.S.

Supreme Court Mulls Citizenship Question for Census

Washington -- The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy ... Read More