What Does the Future Hold for the “Pro-Choice” Movement?

futureAn article by Sarah Kliff in the current edition of Newsweek has some sobering news for the country’s largest “pro-choice” organizations. They’re worried about what the future holds, because they don’t see young people stepping up and rallying to their cause — and yet, that’s exactly what they do see happening on our side. Citing new NARAL research from earlier this year, the article notes:

A survey of 700 young Americans showed there was a stark “intensity gap” on abortion. More than half (51 percent) of young voters (under 30) who opposed abortion rights considered it a “very important” voting issue, compared with just 26 percent of abortion-rights supporters; a similar but smaller gap existed among older voters, too.

After pointing out that “Millennials are more likely than their boomer parents to see abortion as a moral issue,” Kliff writes:

Millennials also came of age as ultrasounds provided increasingly clear pictures of fetal development. “The technology has clearly helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being,” admits former NARAL president Kate Michelman. [emphasis added]

Yes, because once you see a baby on ultrasound, it’s rather hard to be convinced that it’s anything other than, well, a baby. The article goes on to say, “Yet, despite this trend, Americans are still largely on NARAL’s side.” Hardly. The vast majority of Americans most definitely do not support — as NARAL does — abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy, with no waiting periods, no parental involvement laws, and no informed consent laws. Kliff also writes:

Even among young people, NARAL found that 61 percent were “pro-choice,” supporting legal abortion in “all cases” or “most cases.”

This is very misleading. While these numbers are consistent with figures in a Gallup poll released last month, the more important story in the Gallup poll results was how support for making abortion widely illegal has grown fastest among young adults over the last 35 years. What do the major pro-choice organizations have planned for the future? Kliff quotes NARAL’s Anna Greenberg:

[W]ithin the abortion-rights community there’s a growing consensus on a promising path forward: start an open discussion about the moral, ethical, and emotional complexity of abortion that would be more likely to resonate with young Americans. It’s a morally complex issue that both sides have tried to make black and white. We have to recognize the moral complexity.

Good luck with that. As I pointed out last week in a post on the Pro-Life Action League Blog, even staunch “pro-choice” advocates openly admit that any attempt their side makes to argue morality is doomed.

Disunity within the “Pro-Choice” Movement?

The most interesting response I’ve read to the Newsweek article is by the virulently pro-choice Jessica Valenti at Feministing. In it, she makes some revealing comments that show she’s not very happy about the way the major pro-choice organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and NOW operate. And from some of the comments others have posted, she’s not alone. Here are some of her “choice” quotes:

Um, perhaps these organizations are all run by older women because institutional feminism is not very good at passing the torch and/or sharing power. … Because let’s be honest, young women are often kept from being visible in the feminist movement.


And I don’t know about you – but I’m sick of working so hard on behalf of a movement that continues to insist that we don’t exist.


Seriously, what would happen if young women decided they had enough of being ignored and started simply decided to stop working for these organizations?

Either way you look at the current situation — the Newsweek version, where the younger generation is largely absent from the pro-choice scene, or the Jessica Valenti/Feministing version, where members of the younger generation are involved but disgruntled — if I worked for one of the big pro-choice organizations, I’d have a hard time seeing a bright future ahead. [Cross-posted at Pro-Life Action League]

Share Tweet Email