Critical Condition

Life’s Showing

Anytime a poll is released indicating greater support for the pro-life position the mainstream media, like clockwork, tries to either downplay or dismiss the results.  The media’s reaction to Thursday’s release of a Pew Research Center poll showing a 14 percentage point gain in pro-life public support was certainly no exception. In the Washington Post, Jon Cohen quickly cites two other polls — one of Virginia voters and the other conducted by the Washington Post — which purportedly show little change in public attitudes toward abortion.

Interestingly, the Post’s own polls do show pro-life public-opinion gains since 2008, albeit not as dramatic as the Thursday’s Pew poll. However, this past spring a number of surveys, including those taken by the Polling Company, Gallup, Rasmussen, Fox News, and Pew all showed a substantial increase in the percentage of people either willing to identify themselves as pro-life or willing to support greater restrictions on abortion.

Furthermore, the broader gains that pro-lifers have made in public opinion over time can be readily seen in other ways. In fact, Cohen and others of like mind are somewhat naive if they have missed the change in abortion politics over the past several years. For instance, the pro-choice governors who were once thought to be the future of the Republican party have vanished from the political scene. Furthermore, the amount of infighting over the Republican party’s pro-life plank has greatly diminished.

More importantly, Democrats have made a concerted effort to reach out to pro-life voters. Neither Barack Obama nor John Kerry even mentioned support for legal abortion during their respective acceptance speeches at the 2004 and 2008 Democratic conventions. When asked about abortion, President Obama usually talks about the need to reduce abortion and ways of finding common ground. Furthermore, many

Democrats have (unpersuasively) made the argument that more generous welfare programs and more funding for contraceptives are an effective strategy for reducing abortion.

There is certainly not a perfect correlation between public opinion and public policy. And Democrats, for all their rhetoric, are doing precious little on the policy side to offer much encouragement to pro-lifers. That having been said, no political movement has every been hurt by gaining public support. As such, while the Obama administration will continue to present many challenges for the pro-life movement, pro-lifers should take heart. Pro-life efforts have certainly resulted in some incremental, but real gains in the court of public opinion.

Michael J. New — 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

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
Film & TV

A Sublime Christian Masterpiece of a Film

‘There are two ways through life -- the way of nature and the way of grace,” remarks the saintly mother at the outset of The Tree of Life, one of the most awe-inspiring films of the 21st century. She continues: Grace doesn’t try please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked, accepts insults ... Read More
PC Culture

Changing Reality with Words

The reinvention of vocabulary can often be more effective than any social protest movement. Malarial swamps can become healthy “wetlands.” Fetid “dumps” are often rebranded as green “landfills.” Global warming was once a worry about too much heat. It implied that man-made carbon emissions had so ... Read More