It’s a new year, and the abortion battle rages on. Each side had its share of victories in 2019, but Americans – both “pro-life” and “pro-choice” – want more. Just one month into the year, 2020 seems destined to deliver. Two of the largest combatants – Planned Parenthood and the Susan B. Anthony List – have already announced political contributions that shatter former records. Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation poll shows dissatisfaction with the current abortion laws at its highest since the survey began in 2001. And for the first time ever, the U.S. president addresses the March for Life in person. It’s unclear what change may come – but make no mistake: It is coming.
2019 As the Dust Settled
Last year saw a lot of changes to the law. Hundreds of bills were introduced in state legislatures across the nation – and many passed. New York started the year as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act in January. This not only removed abortion from the state’s criminal code – allowing for late-term and partial-birth abortions – but also allowed health care professionals other than doctors to perform the procedures. Virginia very nearly did the same.
Much of this pro-abortion movement was born of fear that Ruth Bader Ginsburg would succumb to illness or retire, leaving President Trump open to appoint another Supreme Court Justice and threaten the Roe v Wade ruling. Maine also allows non-doctors to perform procedures, and Illinois has abortion codified in state law as a “fundamental right.” Rhode Island and Nevada both passed protections against federal bans in 2019, and Vermont even voted to amend the state constitution to protect the “right.”
But 2019 was a big year for abolitionists, as well. Kentucky and Arkansas both passed laws forbidding pregnancies from being terminated due to down syndrome, and heartbeat bills were passed in Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah, though they are each tied up in court battles with the ACLU because of it. Some of these, of course, were designed to be challenged, as anti-abortion lawmakers feel it is long past time for another look at Roe v. Wade.
What the People Want
Gallup has been measuring America’s satisfaction with abortion policies since 2001. The results of the latest survey show that more people are unhappy with the status quo than before. A new high of 58% want change, and a new low of 32% are happy with the way the law stands as of mid-January 2020.
About a fourth of adults polled in America have been dissatisfied with abortion laws on average throughout the years and have wanted them to be stricter. A much smaller percentage wanted looser laws, as most pro-abortion people who responded said they were satisfied. This year, however, the people are split. Almost two-thirds want change. And while the 24% who want stricter laws is normal, the group who wants less regulation has grown to 22%.
Another Presidential First
Several presidents have addressed the March for Life, either by phone or mail, but none have shown up in person. That changes this year. President Trump, who was the first to speak to the March for Life by video in 2018, is now the first to attend in person. The president of March for Life announced on the site Trump’s plans to attend, thanking him for his contribution to the fight against abortion and for his attendance. President Trump, as is his wont, made a somewhat less formal announcement on Twitter, retweeting a video put out by March for Life and adding, “See you on Friday…Big Crowd!”
The theme this year is “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” Additional speakers include:
- Jim Daly – President, Focus on the Family
- Marjorie Dannenfelser – President, Susan B. Anthony List
- Elisa Martinez – Founder, New Mexico Alliance for Life
- David Platt – Pastor, McLean Bible Church
- His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia
- State Senator Katrina Jackson (D-LA)
- Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)
- Melissa Ohden, survivor of a failed saline infusion abortion
- Claire Culwell, survivor of a failed surgical abortion
What Changes May Come?
Abortion used to be a fairly static issue. The law remained relatively unchanged for much of the last decade, but then Donald Trump became president. Abortion is, once again, at the forefront of American politics, for better or for worse. Those who oppose abortion see Trump as the best chance of finally getting the law changed. To those who want the right to abort, Trump is the greatest threat this nation has ever faced. They’re pushing back – hard. While Democrats used to preach “safe, legal, and rare,” it’s now “on-demand and free, for any reason at any time.”
Both sides want change, and both sides are working hard to make it happen. The nation’s top abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, pledged $45 million to help get “pro-choice” Democrats elected in 2020, breaking its previous contribution record. In response, the Susan B. Anthony List broke a record of its own, promising $52 million to help get Donald Trump re-elected. With this much money in the game and the issue burning in the minds and hearts of voters, the stakes are high. It’s unclear what changes 2020 will bring to the abortion battle – but change is coming.
Read more from James Fite.