We used to call my dear friend, mentor and colleague, Dr. Jack Willke, the father of the pro-life movement. These days, as he nears 90 years old, we call him the grandfather of the pro-life movement. I’ve had the distinct honor and privilege to learn much from Jack over the years.
For decades, he’s been saying we’ll end abortion if not for the simple reason that pro-lifers are the ones having babies and the pro-abortion people aren’t. Eventually, we’ll outnumber them. Although that seemed a compelling theory, I wondered if we’d ever have tangible evidence to support it. Now, we do. A study from the Social Science Research Network proves he’s right.
Historically, public support of abortion rights increased following Roe v. Wade in large part due to the mistaken notion that just because it’s legal it’s okay. Since that time, public support for abortion has remained relatively flat and recent years are showing a reversal toward greater support for the pro-life position. This is significant because the percentage of opposition to abortion among young adults is particularly strong. And this trend is occurring while society is growing more liberal on other issues, such as homosexual marriage. Why is the abortion issue different?
Researchers J. Alex Kevern and Jeremy Freese of the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University assert that there’s a connection between fertility and abortion attitudes. The basis of their research is 34 years of data compiled in the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago between the years of 1977-2010. In-person surveys were conducted with over 55,000 respondents to collect both demographic information and opinions on issues varying from political to religious and social concerns.
The premise is that opinion on the abortion issue is largely determined from parent to child. When factoring in the issue of fertility, those who have more children are therefore more likely to shape the cultural opinions of future generations. It should come as no surprise that pro-lifers have had, on average, 27% more children than those who are pro-abortion. Estimates show pro-lifers have roughly 3 children (2.82) for every 2 children of those who support abortion. As those children come of age and have children of their own, the gap between pro-abortion and pro-life is widening in our favor.
The difference is seen generationally. When surveyed at ages 23-34, those born in 1950-1955, were 44.7% in favor of abortion. One generation removed, those born in 1975-1980 were surveyed at the same age and found that only 38.8% were “pro-choice.” It’s reasonable to expect that the next generation’s results will be even lower.
How can we help to ensure that this downward trend continues? We must invest in this nation’s most precious, renewable resource—our children. Start young, even as young as toddlers, help them to understand that babies grow inside their mother’s tummies. As they get older, use educational tools, such as books and the media to reinforce pro-life beliefs. Continue to affirm your values with teens, empowering them to be proactive and take a stand for life. You have the power to plant seeds of life that will grow for generations to come.
Furthermore, I found it interesting that their analysis revealed if there were no difference in the number of children between pro-life and pro-abortion individuals, the population would be about five percentage points more pro-abortion. Our families are making a difference. This shows that as parents, when we invest in our children and share our pro-life beliefs, we’re not just shaping our sons and daughters; we’re shaping the future of the world.
We’re winning the battle on many fronts. And I think it’s fitting that by actually giving life, we’re strengthening the pro-life cause even more. I’m going to forward this email to my married son.
Standing strong for generations of LIFE,
Life Issues Institute