About 1.85 million men were born in the United States in 1947. Of those men, 1,016 died in the Vietnam War. That means Vietnam claimed one in every two thousand American men born that year.
Our generation faced a much greater scourge, and I’m not talking about Iraq or terrorism. For every 2000 babies conceived in 1979 that did not die from an accidental miscarriage, about 500 were aborted in their mothers’ wombs.
Being a conservative usually means being pessimistic about the state of the world, about the future of our culture, and about the prospects for various conservative causes–from protecting traditional values to battling the expansion of government. But conservatives have cause to hope on the one issue that matters the most to many of us: battling against abortion.
Even as the new Congress is more favorable to legalized and taxpayer-funded abortions, and even as a pro-Roe majority on the Supreme Court seems likely for another generation, pro-lifers have reason to hope as we mourn the 34th anniversary of the morally and constitutionally bankrupt Roe v. Wade decision this January 22.
The pro-lifers at this year’s March for Life ought to reflect that on the most important measure, things are getting better: Fewer babies are being aborted. More importantly, a lower percentage of pregnancies are ending in abortion every year. The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a group very dedicated to preserving legalized and tax-funded abortion) estimates that in 2002, 1.29 million American babies were aborted. This is a gut-wrenchingly awful thought, but it represents progress and a downward trend. The Guttmacher Institute measures abortions per thousand women of childbearing age, and finds that number falling from a 1981 high of 29.3 to a post-Roe low of just above 20.
From one abortion for every three live births in the early 80s (meaning the average member of America’s Future Foundation had a 25% chance of being aborted if he or she did not fall victim to an accidental miscarriage) the ratio is down closer to one-in-five.
Even in Washington we can see a glimmer of hope. While both chambers are less pro-life than they were before 2006, both parties are more pro-life (that may sound contradictory at first glance, but the numbers work out that way).
Election Day 2006 was a bad one for all Republicans, but it was far worse for self-described pro-choice Republicans. The House Republicans seeking reelection who had voted for taxpayer funding of abortions had a 63.2% reelection rate, while other House Republicans had a 93% reelection rate.
There is reason to worry, of course. The other side has always had the big money and the big media in their camp. EMILY’s List has spent $67.1 million in the last two election cycles. The largest pro-life group, the Pro-Life Campaign Committee, spend $7.2 million in that same time, or about one-ninth the budget. If you exclude independent expenditures, pro-life groups contributed $1 million to federal candidates in the 2004 and 2006 cycles, while pro-choice groups gave more than $3 million.
The new Democratic Congress could likely reverse current policy and force taxpayers to fund abortions (which belies their claim to be pro-“choice”). It is doubtful that President Bush has the political will to force an honest (read: “anti-Roe“) Supreme Court nominee through a Democratic Senate, and the current Court still has at least a 5-to-4 pro-Roe majority.
But the more important battle today is over the hearts and minds of Americans. When we face setbacks and scorn, as long as we continue to speak the truth–that abortion takes a human life–our side will continue to gain ground. Our generation, born after the 1973 abomination that was Roe v. Wade, are all abortion survivors. We are more opposed to abortion than our older cousins born in the 1960s or our parents born in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Pro-life families are also having more children for reasons that become obvious upon reflection. The busloads of pro-life pilgrims in town this week for the March for Life will be predominantly young, and many of them have five, six, seven, eight, or nine brothers and sisters who have come for past marches or will be here to march next year.
Among our chief weapons will be hope and faith. We march with the hope that we will come close one day to wiping abortion off the face of the Earth. Many of us also battle with this faith: Fighting the good fight–especially amid scorn and against the odds–always has its reward.
Tim Carney is the author of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money. He is the Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.