As Abortion Drops, Polls Show Americans Turning Pro-Life

Jeff Johnson | Congressional Bureau Chief | Thursday, January 16, 2003

As Abortion Drops, Polls Show Americans Turning Pro-Life

Capitol Hill ( - Surveys of abortion facilities around the U.S. released Wednesday show the year 2000 with the fewest number of abortions performed since 1974. Pro-life activists said that, combined with new polling data on the country's attitude about abortion, prove that "America is turning pro-life."

The Alan-Guttmacher Institute, a research organization created by abortion clinic group owner Planned Parenthood, reported in the January/February 2003 edition of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health that in 2000, there were 21.3 abortions per 1000 women of childbearing age, down from an all-time high rate of 29.3 abortions per 1000 women in 1980 and 1981.

In 2000, abortions ended a total of 1.31 million pregnancies, down from the highest total of 1.61 million abortions in 1990. Of the 1.31 million abortions in 2000, 93 percent were provided in so-called abortion "clinics."

The number of abortion providers decreased by 11 percent in 2000 to 1,819. Of those, 46 percent were abortion-only facilities, 33 percent were hospitals and 21 percent were private physicians' offices. Only 13 percent of U.S. counties had an abortion facility, as did only 86 of the nation's 276 metropolitan areas.

"More research needs to be done both to understand why abortion service provision is changing and the impact on women on the small number and geographic concentration of providers," wrote authors Lawrence Finer and Stanley Henshaw. "In addition, further work is needed to determine the causes of declines in abortion rates."

But Janet Folger - president and founder of Faith2Action, a new pro-family organization currently focusing on the abortion issue - said Wednesday the answer to both questions is simple: reduced demand.

"The bottom line is, 30 years of chanting 'choice' cannot overshadow what it is that's being chosen," Folger said. "A child, even the child of an abortion supporter, can recognize that that being in the womb is a human being, that being is a baby."

Faith2Action released the results Wednesday of a national survey of 1001 adults that asked two questions:

"In light of recent medical advances such as in-utero surgery and 3-D ultrasound technology, which reveals the unborn child's body and facial features in detail," the poll asked, "are you in favor of restoring legal protection for unborn children?"

Respondents favored legal protection for unborn children by a margin of 68 to 25.

"Would you favor judicial nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court," respondents were asked, "who would uphold laws that restored legal protection for unborn children?"

Two-thirds of those answering, 66 to 28 percent, agreed that Supreme Court nominees should be committed to upholding such laws.

The poll was conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Folger said the results confirm what pro-life activists have been saying since abortion was legalized in 1973.

"Where is the pro-life movement 30 years later?" she asked rhetorically.

"We are stronger. We are more united. We are standing with truth, backed by technology," Folger continued, "and the vast majority of the American people."

Faith2Action is a coalition of 35 pro-life groups that have joined together on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe versus Wade decision. One of those groups is Concerned Women for America, led by President Sandy Rios.

"Just as we now look back at our nation's history and ask how decent men and women could have tolerated and defended such horrors as slavery, segregation and discrimination," Rios said Wednesday, "so the next generation will ask how decent men and women could tolerate and even welcome such abominations as abortion, euthanasia and cloning."

The Faith2Action coalition is calling on Congress to enact such legislation, beginning with a ban on all human cloning, whether for research or reproductive purposes. The group then hopes Congress will again pass the ban on partial-birth abortions vetoed by President Clinton. President Bush has said he would sign such a prohibition.

"It may be years before we achieve our goal of legal protection," said Thomas Glessner, president and founder of the National Institute of Family Health and Life Advocacy (NIFLA).

"But during the next few years, we are going to see a decreasing number of abortions nationwide," Glessner predicted, "because of the efforts of pregnancy health centers providing medical services, including ultrasound, to empower women who are considering abortion to choose life."

NIFLA research indicates that up to 90 percent of women who see their unborn child using new "3-D" ultrasound technology choose to carry the baby to term.

Pro-abortion activists have called providing access to such ultrasound equipment "intimidation," and have taken legal measures to block such access. Glessner's group provides legal representation and helps pregnancy health centers become licensed health care facilities to avoid legal problems.

The White House Wednesday issued a proclamation declaring Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003, "National Sanctity of Human Life Day." President Bush said Americans must "reaffirm the value of human life."

"As we seek to improve quality of life, overcome illness, and promote vital medical research, my administration will continue to honor our country's founding ideals of equal dignity and equal rights for every American," Bush said in the proclamation.

"Every child is a priority and a blessing, and I believe that all should be welcomed in life and protected by law," he said.

Tracy Ammons, chief Senate lobbyist for the Christian Coalition of America - another member of the Faith2Action alliance - said having pro-life figures in power in the White House, Senate and House of Representatives is encouraging.

"We are here to just give notice today: This is the 30th anniversary of Roe versus Wade," he concluded. "But, if we have anything to say about it, there won't be a 31st anniversary."

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