The Guttmacher Institute released a study [PDF] earlier this week revealing that the abortion rate in the U.S. has continued to decline in recent years and is now at a level not seen since the 1970s.
And as the Pro-Life Action League’s Matt Yonke pointed out in an article published on Monday, Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers continued going up during this same time period, giving the nation’s largest abortion chain an ever greater share of the industry.
National Right to Life published its own analysis of the study, which observed that the stridently “pro-choice” Guttmacher Institute, not surprisingly, “downplayed the role that public debate over the rights of unborn children have played in this trend.”
In its analysis, NRLC notes that in the study, Guttmacher:
…cites the state of Illinois, which saw an 18% decline in abortion numbers even though the state didn’t enact any pro-life legislation during period covered by the report. This neglects, however, that the state’s parental notice law, which had been enjoined since its passage in 1995, was once again in the news in 2009 and 2010 – precisely during the study period – and again prompted a public discussion and debate [about] parental involvement in a minor daughter’s abortion decision.
Surely, the public policy debate surrounding Illinois’ parental notification law during this time helped to lower the state’s abortion rate.
But what else did?
The Missing Link: Boots-on-the-Ground Pro-Life Activism
Being based in Chicago, a good portion of our pro-life activist efforts are focused on our home state of Illinois, which bears the ignominious distinction of being the “Abortion Capital of the Midwest.”
During the time period that saw the 18% decline in abortions in Illinois (2008-2011), the Pro-Life Action League was stepping up our activist efforts in the Chicago area, where the vast majority of the state’s abortion clinics are located.
In late 2007, Planned Parenthood opened one of the largest abortion clinics in the country in Aurora, Illinois under a cover of lies and deception. But from the beginning, the League spearheaded a regular prayer and sidewalk counseling presence outside Aurora’s “Abortion Fortress” that even now, more than six years later, continues. And we know that this presence has resulted in babies being saved.
During this time, the Pro-Life Action League was also helping new pro-life activists get up and running, including Northwest Families for Life, which launched in 2010 and which continues to have a regular sidewalk counseling presence outside abortion facilities located in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs.
Also from 2008-2011, hundreds of thousands of people each year saw images of abortion victims shown in “Face the Truth Tours” organized by the League across Northern Illinois.
The impact of seeing photos of abortion victims simply cannot be underestimated. As our good friend Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform recently said at Students for Life of America’s national conference:
When people see pictures, they feel differently; when they feel differently, they behave differently. … Our goal is the pro-life movement is a radical behavior change. But to change how they behave, we must change how they feel. Pictures change how we feel.
This is why grassroots pro-life activism has always been essential in changing people’s hearts and minds about abortion—which leads directly to babies being saved.