A new Gallup poll asked respondents if they thought most Americans were pro-choice or pro-life. Fifty-one percent believed that most Americans are pro-choice – an inaccurate belief, as the percentage of pro-life Americans is actually slightly higher than the percentage of pro-choice Americans. Clearly, there is a vast misjudgment of where this country stands on the issue of abortion. Why is that? Are Americans scared to call themselves pro-life?
Interestingly, only a small number of Americans believe that abortion should be legal under any circumstances. The overwhelming majority favors restrictions on abortion, and as we know, 48% of Americans consider themselves pro-life. So what’s the problem here?
One reason for the discrepancy could be that, as a country, we do not like being judgmental. Shades of moral relativism abound, as plenty of people will freely admit that they are “personally pro-life” but don’t want to “force my morals onto anyone else.” We also like to assume the best about people. We don’t want to be the mean person shaming the girl who went and got an abortion – it’s much easier to assume that she’s doing it because she has no other choice, and not because a baby is merely inconvenient or because she’s blind to the other options available to her. Americans don’t want to be the bad guy telling a pregnant woman she’s about to murder her child. It’s easier to be comfortable in our ignorance than it is to accept the harsh realities of abortion. No one wants to think about the humanity of a baby being ripped limb from limb. No one wants to think about the life that would have been. So they ignore it and look the other way, calling themselves pro-life because they wouldn’t do it themselves but still refusing to condemn abortion. Americans don’t want to label themselves one way or the other, because then they’d be judgmental.
It’s also likely that Americans do consider themselves pro-life but are afraid to speak up about it. Let’s face it: abortion is a hot-button topic, about as polarizing an issue as you can find, and it can be intimidating to stand up and proudly proclaim that you’re pro-life. After all, abortion-supporters often broadly brand pro-lifers as extremists, anti-woman, and terrorists. Standing up to that kind of rhetoric and making a persuasive argument can be not only intimidating, but confusing as well. It’s far easier to stay quiet than to be an active pro-lifer working to end abortion, which makes our ranks seem smaller than they really are.
The real question, though, is how much could this hurt the pro-life movement? We know that young Americans are finding themselves drawn towards life and away from abortion. But if pro-lifers feel that we’re always in the minority, it could easily lead to defeatism. How do we make our strength more well-known?