Abortion and the Election

I have a new post at parents.com, “Why Aren’t Obama and Romney Talking About Abortion?”

It begins:

My kids love to hear stories about when they were born. They know the quirky details—that Penny was easy to push out, that I threw up on the way to thehospital with William, that they celebrated Marilee’s birth in the hospital with cupcakes. They have a very faint idea that giving birth is precarious and difficult, but they know nothing of the sorrow of miscarriage or the feeling of crisis surrounding an unintended pregnancy. The word abortion has not entered their vocabulary, and I hope I can keep it that way for a while.

Abortion seems not to have made it into the vocabulary of our Presidential candidates either. Over one million fetuses are aborted every year in America, and nearly 1/3 of American women have had or will have an abortion. A recent Gallup poll indicates that a slim majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life, while 42 percent self-identify as pro-choice. I don’t talk about abortion with my kids, but the reality of abortion impacts the lives of women and children in America on a day-to-day basis.

Only 25 percent of respondents to that same Gallup poll stated that they think abortion should be legal in all circumstances, which implies that 75 percent of the nation opposes abortion in some cases. At the same time, since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade nearly 40 years ago, it has become increasingly unlikely that the Court will overturn women’s legal access to abortion services. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts called Roe v. Wade established precedent. And even if the court were to overturn the ruling, many states would keep abortion legal.

So let’s assume for a moment that abortion is here to stay and that the vast majority of the American public believes it should be restricted in some sense. The same Gallup poll indicates that Republicans and Democrats have held steady on their views about abortion over the past decade. But independents have fluctuated, with 47 percent now identifying themselves as pro-life (vs. 30 percent in 2001) and 41percent as pro-choice (down from 56 percent in 2001). Obama or Romney could employ a practical approach to abortion reduction as a way to attract swing voters.

To keep reading, click here.

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).


  1. Alison Swihart says:

    It’s taboo because both sides regard it as the “slippery slope.”

  2. starrlife says:

    I agree with Alison.
    The law allowing the choice is not the same as saying they approve of abortion as the Right Choice so I guess they are both letting folks duke it out within state and personal arenas. I’m curious about the stats which report what percent of the US pop.( out of each group) actually use that choice. Sadly, most choices have to do with a complex cluster of factors and reducing the use of abortion, in my opinion, requires a more complex approach than just criminalizing it. While I am pro-choice I would love to see people living within a whole culture that supports children and parenting as valued so that people would be more likely not to use that particular choice.

  3. Perhaps we could push for policies that, without placing additional burdens on women, would help women avoid late-term abortions and unwanted birth. This might involve measures that enabled greater access to contraception and very early-stage abortion.

  4. Neither candidate has made abortion a focal point of the campaign because they are courting ‘the middle’ for general election votes. The topic makes folks who don’t have a position on it (aka people in ‘the middle’) uncomfortable because they would rather just not think about it. It’s much easier to put one’s fingers in one’s ears than actually ponder the horror that is the act of abortion.

  5. But people can’t even agree on what makes for effective abortion reduction. Liberals (especially pro-life liberals) can point to solid statistics that show abortion goes down as the availability of food stamps, WIC and other aid goes up. And conservatives believe such enhancements to the safety net encourage poor behavior and loose morals, and of course more abortions. Our rigid ideology actually prevents us from making progress in this area.