How the Pro-Life movement should gauge success

The annual report on U.S. reproductive statistics for 2006 was released in January and it recorded a rise in Teen Pregnancies, Births and Abortions for the first time in more than a decade. Since 1991, both the Teenage Pregnancy and Abortion rates in America have been on a steady decline until the shocking rise in the 2006 statistics. The study shows a two percent rise in the Teenage Pregnancy rate and a 0.2 percent rise in the Teenage Abortion rate, which represents about 21,000 more pregnant young mothers and 5,000 more unborn victims.

The report was released by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that originated as the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of surgical abortions in the United States. So it was no surprise that the release of the 2006 statistics was used as an opportunity to blame the Pro-Life community and its policies, specifically abstinence-only sex education curriculum.

Abortion advocates are using the report to claim that they are winning the 37-year-old culture war over the Life issue. They are claiming that this is proof that the Pro-Life community is in trouble and that their policies and efforts are not effective. However, the report brings up an important question – what numbers and figures should Pro-Life advocates be watching to accurately gauge the success of the Pro-Life efforts?

The fact is that there are numerous advocates in the Pro-Life trenches, volunteering at Pregnancy Resource Centers, regularly praying outside abortion mills, or walking door to door to advertise for a local Pro-Life candidate's campaign. Where should all of these hard working Pro-Lifers look to see whether their efforts are making any difference in our culture? 

There are several ways to check the pulse of the Pro-Life movement, including trends of Hollywood, political victories, or cultural events, but above all, Texas Right to Life suggests looking into the hearts and minds of Americans.

It would be unwise to ignore signs like the Pro-Life message of several recent blockbuster movies, relevant political events, or the commotion in Washington over the issue of tax-payer funded abortions. Likewise, one cannot overlook the debate that Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad stirred in one of the most unlikely cultural arenas. However, the value of these recent events is not to hear what individual politicians think about abortion, or even to see whether CBS would fold to the pressure of abortion advocates. The value of studying these recent events is to see how regular Americans respond, participate and feel about the heart of the matter, unborn Life. 

It is telling that millions of individuals contacted, visited, and even rallied in Washington to oppose tax-payer funded abortions. It is important to note that the majority of Americans, including some unlikely figures (like pro-choice Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post), spoke up in favor of airing a potentially Pro-Life Super Bowl commercial. Recent U.S. opinion polls also show that Americans are more confident in facing the Life issue. 

The spirit of the Pro-Life advocates in the trenches was lifted last May, when for the first time since Roe v. Wade, the majority of Americans identified themselves as Pro-Life in a Gallup Opinion Poll. While the term “Pro-Life” does not mean the same thing to all Americans, it does mark an important shift toward openness toward discussing and debating this once private issue. If anything was learned from the Anti-Health Care Reform Rallies and the criticism that CBS received when it signaled it might cancel the Tebow commercial, it is that Americans are open about their convictions concerning abortion. 

More recently, another poll released by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion that showed that the Millennial Generation and Generation X hold and defend significantly more Pro-Life convictions than the older Generations of “Baby Boomers.” The fact that the Pro-Life movement is not only growing in numbers, but is adding creative, passionate and youthful supporters should be an encouraging sign to those already engaged in the battle for the unborn.

So, while abortion advocates are trying to use four-year-old numbers to discourage hard working Pro-Lifers, we have numbers of our own, which show that the hearts and minds of Americans are increasingly turning towards Life.