Last Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade. This monumental Supreme Court decision was commemorated, as it has been every year since, by tens of thousands of Americans marching along the National Mall to the steps of the Supreme Court, this year trudging through arctic conditions. The annual March for Life stands out in the minds of those who have witnessed it on account of the sheer size of the crowd that comes every year as well as their youth and vitality.
This tremendous call for the protection of the rights the unborn came only a few days after comments by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who stated that those who are “right-to-life” have “no place in New York.” Governor Cuomo now tries to make that sentiment felt in law by once again advancing a package of measures aimed at women. One of these provisions is the codification of Roe v. Wade into state law. The bill passed the New York State Assembly on Monday and is now headed for a fight in the State Senate.
This attempt by Governor Cuomo to eliminate even New York’s oldest albeit weakest of restrictions on abortion, runs contrary to the direction the tide has been turning throughout the rest of the country. The past several years have seen a plethora of pro-life bills being debated on the state and national levels. At this year’s March, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that the House would consider HR 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. In the fall, Sen. Lindsay Graham introduced legislation, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks, or more than halfway through pregnancy. Related legislation has already been passed in thirteen state legislatures and in the House. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 205 abortion restrictions have been passed in the last three years in state legislatures – with 70 laws passed in 2013 alone.
What all of this makes abundantly clear is that, despite the fact that the Court legalized unrestricted abortion in the United States 41 years ago, the issue has not been settled in the hearts and minds of the American people.
Last Monday, the Knights of Columbus and Marist released a survey which revealed that the American public – including women and those who self-identify as pro-choice – favor more restrictions on abortion. The survey looked at various questions surrounding the abortion debate and surveyed Americans all across the prolife/prochoice spectrum. The Charlotte Lozier Institute requested the raw data in order that we might analyze the percentage of women who expressed support for or opposition for each question.
The survey reports that 74 percent of Americans either support or strongly support banning abortions after 20 weeks/five months pregnancy except to save the life of a mother. Seventy-five percent of women surveyed support banning abortions after 20 weeks/five months pregnancy except to save the life of a mother. Additionally, 63 percent of women support changing laws to allow for some restrictions on abortions.
While abortion advocates frequently cite the mother’s well-being as a primary reason for the necessity for legal abortion on demand, 84 percent of Americans polled thought that it was possible to have laws that protect both the health and well being of the woman and the life of the unborn. Eighty-four percent of women also felt that the law could give equal protection to both mother and child. Furthermore, 57 percent of women surveyed said that they believed that, in the long run, abortion does more harm than good to a woman.
Governor Cuomo and the advocates of unlimited abortion in New York may try to force their views onto the rest of the state, no matter how unsupportive New Yorkers may be of this agenda. However, it is increasingly clear that the worldview Governor Cuomo is pushing is far outside the mainstream and is unshared by a majority of Americans, including women. As seen in the legislatures and in public attitudes, the majority of Americans favor changing course on abortion in this country. If Governor Cuomo hasn’t yet seen the direction the tide is turning, perhaps he should have stopped by the Supreme Court last Wednesday. He would have seen a joyous and irresistible embrace of life.