Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Pro-Life Voters Are Gaining In Importance and Influence

The 2014 election cycle is setting in.  Primary races are gearing up.  Some issues, like free silver and Medicare coverage of prescription drugs, lie in history.  Others never fade.

Abortion has remained one of the most divisive social and political issues and will likely remain so.  Signs indicate, however, that the pro-life side has pulled even with abortion supporters and may soon pull ahead.

The West Virginia Second District Congressional race demonstrates the issue's importance.  Charleston area Republican candidate Charlotte Lane, long known for favoring abortion rights, issued a recent and very public mea culpa.  She apologized for her previous support of abortion and pledged to oppose it from this point on.  That could come from personal conviction.  It could stem from the fact that Eastern Panhandle based candidate  Alex Mooney has a long and very public record aggressively fighting for the pro-life cause.  Regardless, it illustrates trends within West Virginia and around the nation.

During the tenure of a liberal, abortion supporting president, pollsters have seen more Americans opposing the practice.  Last summer for the first time in decades, support for abortion dipped below 50 percent.  Rasmussen, often criticized as leaning conservative, published that 46 percent identified as pro choice, 43 percent as pro life.  The Gallup Poll showed a different result.  Forty-eight percent opposed abortion while support for the practice was set at five points lower.

Immigration will likely tip this balance even further against abortion.  National Catholic Register's Peter Jesserer Smith reported that Hispanic groups are only now tapping their potential to support the pro-life cause.  Over half of Hispanics oppose abortion and many are first generation migrants from countries that strongly oppose the practice.  Most still identify with a Roman Catholic faith that staunchly opposes abortion. 

The groups have formed to counter efforts by those such as Planned Parenthood to crack into the Hispanic culture to promote pro-abortion ideals.  One such attempt is a telenovella aimed at Hispanic teens called East Los High.  Planned Parenthood plays a major role in shaping the storytelling on the program.  

This type of message, however, has grown rare on mainstream television and motion pictures.  Characters advocating abortion are almost always sinister and selfish characters.  Keeping the baby, regardless of circumstances, is portrayed as the virtuous choice.  Modern technology has nullified the old arguments that an unborn child is not human.  

The changing social currents on other major social conservative issues have strengthened the hand of those opposed to abortion.  Gay marriage at one point attracted much more support and attention among conservative groups.  As state legislatures and courts have acted, however, opposition to gay unions has declined considerably.  Abortion opponents will have more resources as gay marriage opposition dissipates.

For the foreseeable future, which in politics means the next two major elections, abortion will remain an important issue that divides constituencies.  Conservatives can take heart, however, that as on issues of small government and taxes, they know that more and more people are with them.

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