January 22, 2013
Abortion Roundup: 40 Years Later, Only Evangelicals Support Repealing Roe v. Wade
New stats from Pew Forum lead roundup of what news outlets are noting on Roe's 40th anniversary.
On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a woman's legal right to an abortion. And although new research suggests that evangelicals are almost alone in their desire to completely overturn Roe, others have noted the pro-life movement is stronger than ever.
New research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life indicates that 63 percent of those surveyed would oppose overturning Roe v. Wade; by contrast, 54 percent of white evangelical Protestants support overturning Roe, the only major religious group in which a majority favors doing so.
Pew found that "large percentages of white mainline Protestants (76%), Black Protestants (65%), and white Catholics (63%) say the ruling should not be overturned," along with "fully 82% of the religiously unaffiliated."
But the research also shows that only 4 in 10 Americans under age 30 today even know what Roe v. Wade is.
This ignorance is similar to the experience of many Southern Baptists in 1973, Baptist Press noted. However, the historic ruling galvanized the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which has become "the most consistently pro-life, major religious denomination in terms of its rank and file" and fueled the denomination's Conservative Resurgence, according to Richard Land.
And although political opponents on both sides quickly geared up for an "epic conflict," the Washington Post reports that "today the battle is a slog of legislative fights and piecemeal regulations."
The national March for Life, which rallies against Roe v. Wade on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is now led by new president Jeanne Monahan following the death of founder Nellie Gray last fall.
In a profile by Religion News Service, Monahan said the pro-life cause is "winning with young people and we’re winning with the American public ... We’re also winning one state at a time. More pro-life legislation has passed in the states than ever in the history of our country."
That could be because most Americans actually are conflicted on the morality of abortion, and a full repeal of Roe v. Wade would send the abortion rights issue back down to the state level, allowing each state to decide for itself whether or not to legalize the procedure.
Among states considering significant abortion measures, Virginia appears to be deadlocked. Conservative legislators recently blocked an attempt to repeal the state's mandatory ultrasound law. The same legislators also voted down "a bill that would have banned state-subsidized abortions for women with severely impaired fetuses."
Slate reports today that at least one abortion facility operates in each of the 50 states, but significant pro-life efforts in Alabama, South Dakota, and Mississippi could soon end legal abortions there.
Without an end to Roe in sight, other pro-life supporters are fighting abortion by raising awareness, evidenced by the proliferation of pregnancy centers nationwide. Pregnancy centers that provide access to ultrasounds, parenting classes, and other new-parent essentials are on the rise and now outnumber abortion clinics 2,500 to 1,800, according to the New York Times.
“(Pregnancy centers are) really the darlings of the pro-life movement,” Jeanneane Maxon, vice president for external affairs at Americans United for Life, told the Times. “That ground level, one-on-one, reaching-the-woman-where-she’s-at approach.”
CT has extensively reported on abortion, including that the rate of abortions has now fallen to a 10-year low. CT also reported the "pro-life surge" as political gains by U.S. conservatives have unleashed waves of anti-abortion legislation, including recent efforts to target government funding of Planned Parenthood. CT also discussed the true history of evangelicals and the pro-life movement.