Although Americans are split down the middle on whether they identify as pro-life or pro-choice, abortion is viewed as less acceptable than it once was — and surprisingly, millennials are the age group that is now most likely to oppose abortion.
In an article for the Boston Globe entitled, “American millennials rethink abortion, for good reasons,” author Jeff Jacoby said those under the age of 30 “were once the most gung-ho in support of unfettered legal abortions,” and are now the most likely age cohort to think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
“In the early days of legalized abortion on demand, abortion enjoyed the support of those ages 18-29 in much higher numbers than it does now,” pro-life advocate Claire Chretien said. “Many claimed that the issue was settled because the younger generation supported abortion and it looked like those against it would simply die off. Yet my generation is the most pro-life generation since Roe v. Wade.”
In 1991, 36 percent of 18-29-year-olds believed abortion should be legal in all circumstances, according to a Gallup analysis of public opinion on abortion. However, in 2010, only 24 percent of this age group believed abortion should remain legal in all circumstances, making this generation more pro-life than their parents.
The Students for Life of America have also pointed towards the growth of the pro-life movement on college campuses.
“In last year’s annual report, Planned Parenthood bragged that they had 200 campus pro-choice groups while at the same time, Students for Life was pushing upwards of 930 groups on campuses in all 50 states,” said a statement from Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America.
“The pro-life movement is growing faster than the pro-abortion movement because we empower women — we tell them they can and the abortion movement tells them they can’t. We have the winning message because we have the truth on our side — and young women and men recognize that and are abandoning the abortion movement.”
Not just young people are turning away from abortion; the trend is nationwide.
Data from a January 2015 Marist poll shows most Americans, even those who identify as pro-choice, favor significant restrictions on abortion. According to the poll results, 60 percent view abortion as “morally wrong,” 59 percent think abortion “does more harm than good,” and 64 percent think the abortion rate is “higher than it should be.”
Alongside these changing views, there has been a 12 percent nationwide decline in abortions administered since 2010, according to a report published by the Associated Press last summer.
The study found the decline is nearly equal in both the most pro-life and pro-choice states. Even states that have maintained unrestricted access to abortion, such as New York, Washington, and Oregon, have seen declines. New York’s abortion numbers have dropped 15 percent since 2010. Abortions in Washington State dropped 17 percent, and Oregon was down 18 percent.
States that have passed antiabortion laws, such as Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma, have each seen their abortion numbers drop by more than 15 percent as well. The only state on the list to see a rise in abortions was Louisiana, with an increase of 12 percent — but this rise was affected by recent abortion clinic closures in Mississippi and Texas.
Jacoby explained some of the reasons behind these trends, including “an empathy-driven reaction” due to improvements in medical technology, such as vivid ultrasound images, which render a more human aspect to the issue of abortion.
Improvements in neonatal medicine also have replaced the concept of what constitutes a viable fetus. Jacoby explained that because of these progressions, babies born extremely prematurely are able to “survive and flourish” in a world where a generation ago survival might not have been possible.