UNITED STATES: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Will opinion shift finally make abortion history?
, June 9, 2012
While it may seem at times that some of the major items in the culture wars will never change, or see victory resulting, that is not always the case. Persistence and perseverance pay off, and often we can see some substantial gains, if not outright wins.
This is certainly true in the battle over abortion. It may seem like a hopeless task to overturn this greatest moral evil of our time, but not necessarily. Steady work by pro-lifers on many levels is paying off, and we are seeing things shift. Consider for example new survey figures from America.
One US news outlet reports: “The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as ‘pro-choice’ is at the lowest point ever measured by Gallup, according to a new survey released Wednesday.
“A record-low 41 per cent now identify themselves as ‘pro-choice’, down from 47 per cent last July and 1 percentage point down from the previous record low of 42 per cent, set in May 2009. As recently as 2006, 51 per cent of Americans described themselves as ‘pro-choice’.
“Meanwhile, 50 per cent of Americans now consider themselves ‘pro-life’, one point below Gallup’s record high on the measure. ‘Gallup began asking Americans to define themselves as pro-choice or pro-life on abortion in 1995, and since then, identification with the labels has shifted from a wide lead for the pro-choice position in the mid-1990s, to a generally narrower lead for “pro-choice” — from 1998 through 2008 — to a close division between the two positions since 2009,’ explains the polling firm.
“‘Pro-life’ identification is up among all three US political affiliations: 72 per cent of Republicans are ‘pro-life’, up from 68 per cent last year; 47 per cent of independents are, compared with 41 per cent last year; and 34 per cent of Democrats are, compared with 27 per cent last year.
“In terms of morality, a slight majority — 51 per cent — of Americans consider abortion morally wrong, while 38 per cent say that it is morally acceptable — virtually unchanged to views on the matter in May 2011.” (Politico, May 23, 2012).
That is certainly some very heartening news indeed for those concerned about this genocide of the unborn. It shows that all the brave and dogged efforts of the pro-life community are beginning to pay some dividends. It does not mean the war is over — not by a long shot. But it does mean that the tide may well be turning here.
And other polls are coming up with similar sorts of results. Another recent article on this reports: “A recent poll from the Charlotte Lozier Institute found 77 per cent of Americans oppose sex-selective abortion. Last December, 79 per cent of Americans said they supported restricting abortion to the first trimester, and a majority would limit abortion to cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, according to a Knights of Columbus/Marist College poll.
“In this month’s Gallup poll, 25 per cent of those surveyed believed abortion should be legal in all circumstances; while 20 per cent believed abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
“The poll’s results are a stunning turnaround from the first survey to ask this question. In 1995, 56 per cent of Americans described themselves as ‘pro-choice’, and only 33 per cent of Americans were ‘pro-life’.” (LifeSiteNews.com, May 23, 2012).
What about Australia? Accurate figures on what people think about abortion can be hard to come by. A lot depends on the polls or surveys: who is conducting them, and how the questions are framed? Thus it is somewhat hard to tell where exactly Australians stand on this issue today.
Nonetheless there have been earlier bits of research conducted on these sorts of questions. Back in 2008 for example I wrote a piece looking at some findings on this:
“The 2005 volume, Give Women Choice: Australia Speaks On Abortion, by Selena Ewing and John Fleming, presents quite a different picture. Based on 2004 statistics, it found, among other things, that 63 per cent of Australians either oppose or are not strongly supportive of abortion on demand. Moreover, 64 to 73 per cent of Australians thought that the abortion rate was too high in this country. And except for the ‘hard cases’ of foetal abnormality or risk to the health of the mother, less than one in four Australians think abortion is morally justified.
“Only 22 per cent of Australians think they are very well informed on the issue of abortion, and 71 per cent think there should be greater public discussion of the topic. So much for abortion being a non-issue. The truth is, ordinary Australians are in fact very much concerned about the subject of abortion.” (CultureWatch, February 12, 2008).
And a recent segment on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes about “selective reduction” — i.e., abortions of extra foetuses due to fertility treatment — was very interesting in this regard. It seems a good majority of those commenting on this were appalled by it. (“The impossible choice”, Sixty Minutes, Channel Nine, May 18, 2012).
That is also a bit of good news. So things may be turning around slowly here as well. Far more work needs to be done of course, but we can all use a bit of good news. And what happens in the US often can have a great impact on the rest of the world. So if some wins on the board occur there, it may well be good news for other nations as well.
There have been many wins, certainly at various state and local levels, and many abortionists have quit and many abortion clinics have been shut down. On top of all this are just so many individual stories. How many inspiring stories could be told about those who are doing so much for life — even those who were once involved in the culture of death?
I have featured a number of these stories on my CultureWatch website. Consider here just one such story. This is about one woman who has had a major change of heart and mind. Here is part of the story of Katrina Fernandez. She writes: “The bumper sticker read, ‘Having an abortion does not make you un-pregnant, it makes you the mother of a dead baby’.
“The word ‘mother’ struck me because ‘mother’ is such a powerful word. It conjures many meanings, and when a woman becomes one she is fundamentally changed. ‘Mother’ as a verb means to nurture, care for and protect. ‘Mother’ as a noun means a female person who is pregnant with or gives birth to a child — or a female person whose egg unites with sperm, resulting in the conception of a child.
“By this definition, if you’ve ever been pregnant you are a Mother. Even if you’ve had an abortion, you are still a Mother — a grieving Mother….
“There is no consolation to be had for the mother that loses a child. She will grieve in her heart for the rest of her life. Abortion, however, not only robs a child of its life and a mother of her child; it also robs the mother of her grieving. She is not allowed to grieve because she cannot publicly claim the title Mother.
“Abortion advocates will never admit a post-abortive woman is a Mother because to admit that would acknowledge the fact that there was once a child. Not a clump of cells, but a very real living child.
“When girls begin menstruating they are not called mothers to a clump of cells, yet so many people really believe an abortion is just like having a heavy period or passing a large menstrual clot. This was how it was described to me when I found myself in their clinic 15 years ago. Two years later when I returned to have a second abortion the lie had not changed.
“For 15 long years I’ve lived with the pain, shame and guilt associated with my past. In that time I’ve experienced denial, anger and depression. It wasn’t until my conversion to Catholicism that I finally sought the reconciliation my soul needed. Once I received the grace of forgiveness I was charged with the next most important task of my life … to tell as many women as I can how horrible, evil and despicable abortion is.
“However, it has taken me another six years to find my courage. In order to honestly talk about the truth I needed to admit to my past and in this one area my words failed me. Today I write this past so that I may finally own up to what it is I have done and make the necessary reparations for my crimes so that others will know just how fundamentally soul-destroying abortion is.
“I am choosing this day to find my voice.
“Here is the truth I spent so many years denying and keeping from the public — I killed two of my children, robbed my parents of grandchildren, and murdered my son’s siblings.
“These abortions directly caused a medical condition known as incompetent cervix which resulted in the premature birth of another son who died after a week-long struggle in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] in 2001. The suffering I’ve endured and caused others is immeasurable and the guilt almost drove me suicidal.”
And consider this powerful remark of hers: “I refuse to be a coward anymore. In these times, no one can afford to be a coward. The price of our silence is paid in the blood of millions of innocent aborted babies. This is a deplorable evil and it must end now.” (LifeSiteNews.com, May 22, 2012).
That is exactly the attitude and mindset that will end the abortion holocaust. When enough people get this sort of conviction and passion, then we can make abortion history. Will you be one of those people?
Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com
Bill Muehlenberg, “Trivialising baby-killing”, CultureWatch, February 12, 2008.
Michael Usher, “The impossible choice”, Sixty Minutes (Australia), Channel Nine, May 18, 2012.
Katrina Fernandez, “I killed two of my children: fifteen years later and silent no more”, LifeSiteNews.com, May 22, 2012.
Tim Mak, “Poll: Record low are ‘pro-choice’”, Politico (Arlington, Virginia), May 23, 2012.
Ben Johnson, “Number of ‘pro-choice’ Americans hits record low: Gallup poll”, LifeSiteNews.com, May 23, 2012.