Numbers Favor Prolific Pro-Lifers: As the Pro-Life/pro-Choice Debate Moves into Its Fourth Decade, the Consequences of Abortion Are Looming over Many Countries That Face a Decline in Birthrates and Population Growth That Could Undermine Social Stability. (Special Report: Population Bomb)

By Lucier, James P. | Insight on the News, December 24, 2002 | Go to article overview

Numbers Favor Prolific Pro-Lifers: As the Pro-Life/pro-Choice Debate Moves into Its Fourth Decade, the Consequences of Abortion Are Looming over Many Countries That Face a Decline in Birthrates and Population Growth That Could Undermine Social Stability. (Special Report: Population Bomb)


Lucier, James P., Insight on the News


Thirty years ago the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortions in the United States in the case of Roe v. Wade, opening the past three decades to contentious debate over social policy. The battleground has extended not only to the U.S. Congress and the courts, but to the schools and institutions which shape the attitudes of the next generation. The struggle between the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers (as well as those who just don't want to hear about it) is so strong and so deep because it is not just about code words and ideology. It is a bitter conflict about two visions of the future of the nation, and, indeed, the future of humanity.

Even as both sides look to the Supreme Court and even to Congress to settle the matter once and for all (see "Courting Changes in Roe v. Wade," p. 31, and "Pro-Life Stance Paid Off for GOP," p. 33), the outcome is not so certain. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the annual number of abortions has been declining since 1991. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a New York City pro-choice think tank, reported in October that the overall abortion rate in the United States declined 11 percent between 1994 and 2000, with the decline particularly steep--39 percent--among adolescents age 15 to 17.

A Zogby International poll commissioned for the Buffalo News (New York) in December found that 32 percent of Americans changed their opinions on abortion during the last decade, with 21 percent becoming more negative--indicating that those who changed negatively were twice as numerous as those who changed in favor. More than two-thirds of all queried said that they strongly would advise a pregnant woman not to get an abortion. Moreover, the strongest age group opposing abortion consisted of young people 18 to 20 years old.

"The abortion-survivors generation, those kids born since the Roe decision in 1973, are much more prolific than their elders," says Steven Mosher, director of the Population Research Institute in Front Royal, Va. "If you survey people at pro-life meetings, the average number of children is four. If you survey people at a National Abortion Rights League meeting, the average is probably one-half of a child. And it's not just the activists; people who are in church on Sunday, people who pray regularly, average about three while those who don't average about one. What does that mean demographically? It means that the ranks of our opposition are going to be decimated by what we might call a form of self-imposed collective suicide. So their response is to try to use our education system to reproduce themselves intellectually since they are not going to reproduce biologically."

According to Mosher, there are geographical differences around the country as well. "The birthrate in the Northeast is about 1.4, 1.5 children, which is about the European average, below the rate of replacement," he tells INSIGHT. "The rest of the country averages 2.5 children, with a somewhat higher fertility in the South, especially in Texas. There are some striking differences in this country, which roughly parallel the famous red and blue states of the maps of the 2000 [presidential] election. It's a very positive sign for the future."

Yet the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which long has argued that the world faces an overpopulation crisis, released a report in early December promoting so-called "reproductive health and rights"--a code phrase for abortion--as the key to world prosperity. …

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Numbers Favor Prolific Pro-Lifers: As the Pro-Life/pro-Choice Debate Moves into Its Fourth Decade, the Consequences of Abortion Are Looming over Many Countries That Face a Decline in Birthrates and Population Growth That Could Undermine Social Stability. (Special Report: Population Bomb)
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