There’s been a lot written on the Public Religion Research Institute’s recent poll [PDF] focusing on Millennial generation adults (ages 18-29) and their opinions on issues like abortion. One analysis of the poll’s results that caught my attention was one written by the always insightful Dr. Michael New, who notes the following:
The General Social Survey has been collecting opinion data on abortion using the same battery of questions since the 1970s. In most years, respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 tend to be the least sympathetic toward the pro-life position. However, starting around the year 2000, those between the ages 18 and 29 were on average more pro-life than those from other age cohorts. What is interesting is that one would not expect the current generation of young people to espouse pro-life views. Todayâ€™s young adults tend to be less religious and more secular, and have more liberal attitudes toward sex than previous generations. Furthermore, social scientists have not arrived at a consensus as to why this current generation of young people is more pro-life. Various theories include 1) the development of ultrasound technology, the 1990s debate over partial-birth abortion, and popular cultureâ€™s depiction of single motherhood as non-disruptive in television shows like Friends and Murphy Brown and movies like Juno.
All of these are definitely valid reasons why older teens and young adults have, over the past decade or so, been more pro-life than in prior years. But I think this shift is due to at least one other important reason as well.
Everyone Knows Someone Who Has Had an Abortion
Before I came here to Generations for Life, I was a high school Religion teacher. At one of the schools where I taught â€” a girls’ Catholic high school in Chicago â€” when I covered the topic of abortion, I would ask my students how many of them knew someone who had had an abortion. Inevitably, nearly every hand would go up. Should this come as a surprise? Certainly not. It’s simply a fact that the more time goes by, the number of women who have had an abortion continues to grow. Because there are so many post-abortive women living today, almost everyone of any age (including, obviously, young people) personally knows someone who has had one. And in overwhelmingly large numbers, women who have had an abortion hated it, often saying it was the worst thing that ever happened to them. As more and more women talk to their relatives and friends about their abortion experiences, and begin to speak out â€” either publicly or via anonymous public confessions on websites like PostSecret (see right) â€” the less likely other women of any age are to believe abortion is ever a good idea.