Voices For Life

Voices for Life is an e-publication dedicated to informing and educating the public on pro-life and pro-family issues. We cover issues from conception until natural death, as well as all family life issues.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Case of the Pro-Life Movement: On Demography and Marriage

by Michael J. New
Public Disclosure
The Witherspoon Institute

Social liberals have gotten their way. The Supreme Court has imposed a socially liberal policy preference on the entire country by way of a single, sweeping decision. Sober-minded political analysts—even within the conservative movement—remain pessimistic about social conservatism’s long-term prospects. Indeed, surveys show that young people—tomorrow’s voters and parents—overwhelmingly oppose social conservatives on their signature issue.

After Obergefell v. Hodges, do these circumstances warrant despondency among those remaining supporters of marriage as the union of husband and wife? Not at all, for the same situation faced pro-lifers during the 1970s. Old laws and mores were overturned, and people seemed to like it. Then, too, analysts doubted the pro-life movement’s life expectancy, for a couple of reasons.

First, as the post-Roe abortion rate increased, so did the number of people who knew someone who had an abortion. Some thought that such people would be motivated to keep abortion legal, for the more abortions there were that occurred, the more the reality of abortion would confront people. As people became acquainted with the pressures facing women in difficult circumstances, it was supposed, they would become more sympathetic with those who found a solution in abortion.

But even though the abortion numbers dramatically increased, people never really became desensitized. Many physicians did not want to perform abortions, and in fact some abortion advocates are worried about the decreasing numbers of physicians willing to perform them. But more importantly, many women who obtained abortions regretted their experience, and many men who were involved regretted their involvement. Ultrasound technology would quickly develop, and vivid pictures of unborn children would start to appear on refrigerators and bulletin boards. All in all, even though the incidence of abortion increased, many Americans simply never accepted Roe v. Wade the way they accepted previous Supreme Court decisions involving privacy and contraception.

Michael New is a Visiting Associate Professor at Ave Maria University and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Public Discourse is an online publication of the Witherspoon Institute that seeks to enhance the public understanding of the moral foundations of free societies by making the scholarship of the fellows and affiliated scholars of the Institute available and accessible to a general audience.

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