The Corner

Some Positive Pro-Life Trends

The Guttmacher Institute is reporting that in the first six months of 2011 states have enacted a record number of pro-life laws. Guttmacher has identified 80 new laws, which is more than double the previous record of 34 enacted in 2005 — and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. This is partly because of the gains pro-lifers made in the 2010 elections. However, pro-life movement has also had to respond to the threat posed by Obamacare. Indeed, eight states have banned abortion coverage in new insurance exchanges. Pro-lifers have also responded to technological developments as five states banned the use of telemedicine for the provision of medication abortion. A new piece of pro-life legislation that is enjoying popularity is fetal pain laws. Thus far, six states — Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama — have enacted these laws, which protect unborn children after 20 weeks, when there is medical evidence that the unborn can feel pain.

Furthermore, many incremental laws enjoy board support. Last week, Gallup released a survey which shows that Americans strongly support a range of pro-life laws. Specifically, informed consent laws, parental consent laws, partial birth abortion bans, and waiting periods are all supported by well over 60 percent of Americans. Unfortunately, opinion surveys on incremental pro-life laws are conducted infrequently and tend to get relatively little media attention. Conversely, the mainstream media often reports on surveys where respondents are asked to describe themselves as either pro-life or pro-choice. This is because up until recently, the pro-choice side would always come out ahead. Furthermore, the media also likes to report the results of surveys which purportedly show that a majority of Americans would oppose the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Of course, the media does not bother to report that many Americans incorrectly think the reversal of Roe would ban all abortions.

Regardless, these trends in both state legislation and public opinion bode well for the future of the pro-life movement.

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.

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