Pro-life shift not sur­pris­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

ways to mis­un­der­stand” the Gallup poll re­sults. She sug­gested that bec a u s e pro-choice leaders have the mo­men­tum, per­haps Amer­i­cans are sim­ply ap­ply­ing some brakes.

My re­sponse? In 2007, I spent sev­eral days por­ing over dozens of pub­lic-opin­ion sur­veys, try­ing to di­vine Amer­ica’s views on abor­tion 34 years af­ter Roe v. Wade.

My con­clu­sion, which I in­cluded in a three-part se­ries on the fu­ture of the tra­di­tional-val­ues move­ment, was that, in gen­eral, 20 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­ported abor­tion un­der “any” cir­cum­stances and 20 per­cent sup­ported it un­der “no” cir­cum­stances. The ma­jor­ity sup­ported abor­tion un­der lim­ited cir­cum­stances — but didn’t agree on


what those cir­cum­stances might be.

Gallup’s new poll, taken in May, shows that this stance — 53 per­cent sup­port abor­tion with lim­its, with the smaller per­cent­ages hold­ing ex­treme views — still holds.

What’s new is that when asked flat-out, most Amer­i­cans now say they are pro-life.

I find this be­liev­able for two rea­sons.

First, my


re­search showed that young Amer­i­cans are skew­ing pro-life. A 2003 Gallup poll, for in­stance, com­pared the abor­tion views of 517 teens, aged 13 to 17, with those of more than 1,000 adults. When asked whether abor­tion should be al­lowed un­der “any” cir­cum­stance, adults were more likely to say yes than teens (26 per­cent to 21 per­cent). More stun­ningly, when asked whether abor­tion should be al­lowed un­der “no” cir­cum­stances — i.e., be out- lawed — 33 per­cent of teens said yes, com­pared with only 17 per­cent of adults.

An­other poll, re­leased in Jan­uary 2006 by Hamil­ton Col­lege and Zogby In­ter­na­tional, asked 1,000 high-school se­niors about the moral­ity of abor­tion. Twothirds said it was im­moral, with 23 per­cent say­ing it was “al­ways” morally wrong and 44 per­cent say­ing it was “usu­ally” morally wrong.

My ex­pe­ri­ence with youth, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, is that they of­ten re­coil at abor­tion. So I find a pro-life trend in youth to be quite plau­si­ble.

Sec­ond, I think some ag­ing baby boomers are chang­ing their views. Peo­ple gen­er­ally be­come more con­ser­va­tive and self-re­flec­tive with age. Lega­cies mat­ter. Hind­sight is 20/20. Re­grets ap­pear.

My sus­pi­cion is that in more than a few cases, baby boomers who were will­ing to have abor­tions are not at ease with the idea of los­ing their grand­chil­dren, too. It may be that in the au­tumn of life, be­ing “pro-life” has a whole new mean­ing.

Ch­eryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwet­zstein@wash­ing­ton­

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