We know what the majority on the Supreme Court thinks about abortion. But increasingly, the court of public opinion is issuing a different ruling.
It hasn’t even been a month since the Supreme Court handed down a decision many saw as a massive setback for the pro-life movement. But new data shows that it’s the supporters of legal abortion, not pro-lifers, who face an uncertain future. PR Newswire reports that the Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus, conducted a scientific survey of a thousand Americans, 18 and over. And the results were stunning.
Although around half of Americans still call themselves “pro-choice,” seventy-eight percent—nearly eight in ten in this country—support substantial restrictions on abortion. It turns out not all Americans who call themselves “pro-choice” take the extreme position that abortion should be legal at any stage of pregnancy for any reason.
And the younger the survey participant, the less pro-choice they become. A similar study by Students for Life of America found that just seventeen percent of millennials support anything-goes abortion. Most, it turns out, want abortion heavily regulated and restricted to the earliest stages of pregnancy. In fact, an astonishing sixty-two percent of those who describe themselves as “pro-choice” believe abortion should be banned after the first trimester!
But it gets even more interesting and relevant to current debates. The study also found that over sixty percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions, and nearly eight in ten want abortion clinics held to the same standard as other outpatient surgery centers—a rule the U.S. Supreme Court just struck down in Texas. And speaking of the Supreme Court, seventy percent of those surveyed say doctors who perform abortions should be required to have hospital admitting privileges—another Texas requirement declared unconstitutional by the Court. And most remarkably, Americans agree by a margin of 20 percent that religious healthcare providers should not be forced to perform abortions against their deeply-held beliefs.
Let’s be clear about something: This doesn’t amount to a pro-life revolution. Far too many Americans still think abortion should be legal at least in some cases—a position those of us who believe life begins at conception find inconsistent and unbearable. The overall goal of the pro-life movement is not that abortion becomes illegal; we want to persuade hearts and minds so that it becomes unthinkable.
Still, what this study does show is how profoundly out of touch many of our judges and lawmakers are with the American public. Liberals on the Supreme Court and elsewhere are basically keeping unrestricted abortion on “life support” in this country. The overwhelming majority of “we, the people,” favor cracking down on the practice.
But what about the rest of the world? The Left loves to tout Western Europe as a model for social democracy and progress. But as Cassy Fiano explains in a terrific video at Prager University, abortion laws in the United States are some of the most liberal in the world! Throughout Europe, where such laws were democratically-enacted rather than imposed by a court, abortion is widely restricted to the first trimester of pregnancy.
In Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and France, abortions after 12 weeks are virtually illegal. Waiting periods and parental consent requirements for minors are common. These kinds of laws raise cries of “theocracy!” in the United States. But they’re the democratically-enacted norm in much of famously secular Europe.
So what does all this mean? Though we still have a lot of work to do, the cultural winds are fair. Make no mistake: The Supreme Court’s recent edict striking down common-sense safety regulations on the abortion industry is an act of extremism.
Four decades of peering into the womb have forced most Americans to rethink abortion. Those on the bench and elsewhere who refuse to listen are getting lonely. And that’s why now is the time to press hard for change.
John Stonestreet is President of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint co-host.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by BreakPoint.