WASHINGTON -- Does everyone agree that the recent news on abortion is actually quite promising? Abortions are in decline.
Abortion is at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized it. There were 1.05 million abortions in 2011, down 13 percent from the 1.21 million abortions committed in 2008. We are heading back in the direction of the 1.03 million abortions committed in 1975. All this information comes from the Guttmacher Institute's report "Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011," and the Guttmacher Institute favors abortion along with the more humane forms of birth control. So when even the Guttmacher Institute agrees abortion is down, it has got to be down.
Not only is the number of abortions down, but also the incidence of abortion. The frequency of abortions has dropped to 16.9 abortions per 1000 women in 2011. That, too, is the lowest since 1973. The decline is widespread across the country, a national trend. In 2011, there were some 40,000 fewer abortions than in 2010. In recent years, abortion has been falling by 4 and 5 percent a year. Also the number of abortion facilities has declined. Between 2008 and 2011 the number declined by 4 percent. The number of women with unintended pregnancies choosing abortion dropped from 47 percent to 40 percent from 2000 to 2010.
The debate about abortions is having an effect, and the opponents of abortion are winning. This is a long-term debate, however, and it has been uphill all the way. When the Supreme Court intruded into the debate with its decision, it was up to the opponents of abortion to organize nationwide, and that is what they have done. The opposition to abortion has grown and so have the laws making an abortion harder to get. Brenda Zurita, a research fellow for the Concerned Women of America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, asserts that since 2010 the number of "pro-life laws" has multiplied: "In 2011, there were 92 pro-life laws passed; in 2012, there were 43 passed, and in 2013, there were 70 more." She adds that 81 clinics closed in 2013. The fact is, increasingly abortion is unlikely to be a spur of the minute decision.
In reading these statistics, I note that there is a heretofore invisible agent in the abortion debate. We all know about the women at the helm of the pro-abortion movement -- most of them call themselves feminists. But has anyone noted that it is women who are leading the anti-abortion movement, too? Sure there is ex-governor Sarah Palin, who led the fight with tireless advocacy and even by example, taking her baby with Down syndrome to term. She has braved the abuse of the pro-abortion militants and deserves the support of all Americans. Yet, has anyone noted the ordinary women leading the movement at the local level? Women are taking responsibility for their lives and the lives that they carry in their wombs. They are doing what Irving Kristol once remarked women in pre-feminist societies always did, to wit: They stood as society's last line of defense for morality.
When feminists transformed abortion into a "women's issue" they ignored the millions of women who always opposed abortion as preeminently a moral issue. They also ignored the millions of irresponsible men who were delighted to leave abortion as a women's issue. These men never wanted to be held accountable for the child they fathered in the first place. Yet women and men have recognized steadfastly that abortion is one of the foremost moral issues of our time. They have moved the conscience of America to consider the moral heft of abortion and slowly, steadily they are rolling back Roe v. Wade.
In answer to my initial question, everyone does not agree that the abortion news is good. But now the mindless acceptance of abortion has been challenged. The champions of abortion have to face up to the fact. There is a growing number of Americans who fear that abortion is killing babies and it ought to be stopped.