January 27, 2017

Editorial

Study, poll and president: Good news for pro-life advocates

On the heels of local March for Life gatherings on Jan. 23 in Indiana and the national March for Life on Jan. 27 in Washington, there was promising news to report to pro-life advocates.

The U.S. abortion rate is down to its lowest level since the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal virtually on demand in its 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, and the rate is half of its early-1980s peak.

According to a study issued on Jan. 17 by the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate for U.S. women ages 15-44 was 14.6 per 1,000 in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. The figure represents a 14 percent decline from the 2011 numbers, and less than half of the 1981 rate of 29.4 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age.

The percentage of pregnancies ending in abortion was down to 18.8 percent, a decline of nearly two-fifths below its 1983 peak of 30.3 percent.

Beyond the prayers and witness of so many, we also believe access to state-of-the-art technology like sonograms and ultrasounds have served as excellent resources to show life in its earlier stages in a mother’s womb.

As a result, minds and hearts are continually being changed to support pre-born children, said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.

“When they see the child moving in the womb on an ultrasound, when they hear the heartbeat of the unborn child, when they know there are people and programs available to help them with a new baby and new circumstances, when they see what dismemberment abortion does to these precious children, the pain and agony that is involved in every chemical abortion, they look for life preserving solutions that are better for everyone involved,” Tobias said in a Jan. 17 statement.

We also believe it was providential that on the same day—Jan. 23—a Marist poll was released showing significant majorities of Americans oppose the use of tax dollars to fund abortions and want the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of abortion restrictions, President Donald Trump issued an executive order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy.” It bans all foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. funds from performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.

The policy is named for the city that hosted the U.N. International Conference on Population in 1984, where Ronald Reagan, then in his first term as president, instituted it. The policy was rescinded when Democrats sat in the White House, only to be restored when Republicans claimed the presidency.

“This is a welcome step toward restoring and enforcing important federal policies that respect the most fundamental human right—the right to life—as well as the long-standing, bipartisan consensus against forcing Americans to participate in the violent act of abortion,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The new Marist poll results suggest strong support for the executive order. Of those polled, 83 percent oppose the use of tax money for abortion in other countries, and 62 percent oppose the use of tax money for abortion generally.

The poll, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, surveyed approximately 2,700 adults in December. It contains breakdowns by political affiliation and ethnicity but not religious beliefs, so there was no information on how many respondents were Catholics.

According to a Catholic News Service story, 52 percent of the respondents indicated that they thought of themselves as “pro-choice,” while 42 percent

self-identified as pro-life. But when the questions became more detailed on abortion policies, the numbers shifted.

Across political and ethnic lines, overwhelming majorities of respondents indicated they would like “significant restrictions” on abortion. That included 91 percent of those who called themselves supporters of President Donald J. Trump, and 55 percent of those who identified themselves as Hillary Clinton supporters. The poll further showed that 79 percent of both African-American and Latino respondents favored significant restrictions.

The poll also indicated that 74 percent wanted the Supreme Court to rule on these restrictions, indicating support for overturning the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion virtually on demand.

As pro-life advocates, we see our prayers and witness bearing fruit. But our work and mission to protect all life from conception to natural death must continue.

That message was shared by Father Patrick Beidelman during a Jan. 23 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis to mark the U.S.’s Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The rector of the cathedral and executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization, Father Beidelman also noted that all our efforts to protect life must start with a reliance on God, the source of all life:

“As we respond to his call to pray for and give witness to the dignity of every human life in our world, may [God] give us his mercy, may he give us his strength, and may he use us as instruments of his peace.”

—Mike Krokos

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