By Kitty Testa
Every year, on a weekend close to the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, pro-lifers gather in Washington D.C. to demand an end to abortion. The first March for Life was organized in 1974 and was attended by about 20,000 people. Over the years, the attendance numbers have fluctuated, with some claims as high as 650,000 for the 2013 gathering. The high numbers are contested, mostly by media, whom pro-lifers have criticized for perpetually understating attendance.
This year’s March for Life occurs this weekend, and again—no doubt—there will be argument as to how many are in attendance. It is odd that a singular event in a singular city seems to bear so much importance. After all, there are similar pro-life marches in cities across the country commemorating the anniversary. Is attendance at the D.C. March for Life truly indicative of pro-life attitudes in the U.S.?
Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion was prohibited in 44 states. Only 14 states permitted abortion in some cases, and a mere four states—Washington, New York, Alaska and Hawaii—permitted abortion prior to viability. Pro-choice advocates have since championed abortion on demand, even partial-birth abortion right up until the moment of delivery, and have fought any and every restriction on the practice. They have been largely successful, victorious to the point where one might wonder why and how the pro-life movement stays alive.
Abortions in the United States were extremely rare prior to 1966, less than 1,000 per year. The number of abortions began to climb in the late 1960s, and by 1972 there were nearly 600,000 abortions in the United States. There were 5.6 live births for every abortion that year. By 1980 there were 1.55 million abortions in the United States, with only 2.3 live births for every abortion. A decade later, the number of abortions hit its peak at 1.6 million, with 2.6 live births for every abortion. Since then the number of abortions has been declining, and estimates for the last several years are less than 1 million per year.
So is the U.S. becoming more pro-life? Yes.
The pro-life movement has not been static, and is enjoying resurgence. New voices in the cause are coming from surprising corners of society, and outreach is increasing on numerous fronts.
In very real ways, this is not your mother’s pro-life movement. Here are five reasons the pro-life movement is gaining ground.