2016 has been rough on everyone, and the pro-life movement is no exception. With the loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February, followed by a major pro-abortion victory in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the calendar year has been capped off by President Obama’s feeble, 11th-hour attempt to force states to fund Planned Parenthood.
However, as the numbers and some key developments illustrate, advocates for the unborn actually have great cause to celebrate at year’s end. Here are five signs of hope and encouragement.
1. Polling shows that a majority of Americans are pro-life
Almost 44 years after the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in January of 1973, a majority of Americans identify as “pro-life” and support substantial restrictions on abortion:
A July survey conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Policy found:
[A]bout 8 in 10 Americans support substantial restrictions on abortion (78 percent), and would limit it to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. This number includes 62 percent of those who identify as pro-choice, 85 percent of African-Americans and 84 percent of Latinos …
Furthermore, a Gallup poll in May found that more Americans regard themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice” (48 vs. 45 percent, respectively). “What’s more,” writes Jeffrey H. Anderson at The Weekly Standard, “opposition to abortion is rather plainly on the rise, as those numbers were effectively flipped 10 years ago — and as, in the mid-1990s, the number of people who considered themselves ‘pro-choice’ outpaced the number who considered themselves ‘pro-life’ by about 20 percentage points.
A November poll by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend found that a stark majority of Americans (64 percent) support a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks (with the mother’s life, rape, and incest exceptions), when the unborn child is believed to feel pain. The measure was especially popular with African Americans and millennials, 70 and 78 percent of whom supported it, respectively.
2. Abortion clinics are closing nationwide
Recent findings from pro-life group Operation Rescue show that 31 abortion facilities across 18 states closed in 2016. According to the Christian activist group’s report, the number of facilities providing surgical and medical abortions currently stands at 731 nationwide, a 15 percent decrease from the 860-facility high in 2012.
“The political pendulum has swung our way, and we plan to work very hard to take advantage of this opportunity to immediately call for enforcement of laws that will shut down abortion facilities and save lives,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
“I believe this dramatic reversal of fortunes will pave the way for the eventual end to abortion in our country. There is now no excuse for failure.”
3. Abortion rates are down, in a big way
Data most recently available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that abortion numbers and rates are on a general decline. The latest figures, from 47 states, shows a total of about 665,000 abortions performed in 2013.
“[C]ompared with 2012, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions for 2013 decreased by 5%,” writes the Family Research Council’s Arina Grossu. “From 2004–2013, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions also decreased 20%, 21%, and 17%, respectively, reaching their lowest level across the board for that time period.
“Additionally, the abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, about half of the 1980 recorded rate. The Associated Press reported that the CDC has not recorded a lower abortion rate since 1971, two years before the Roe v. Wade landmark decision.”
4. Pro-life laws are on the rise at the state level
According to the Guttmacher Institute (also known as Planned Parenthood’s research arm), the year 2016 continued a growing trend of pro-life laws at the state level.
By July, states had already adopted 46 new abortion restrictions, the Guttmacher Institute lamented. The report goes on to say that, since 2010, states have passed 334 pro-life laws, which make up 30 percent of all such measures.
And with Republicans now controlling a record number of state legislatures, the trend is certain to continue.
5. The 2016 election results hold some serious pro-life promise
Perhaps some of the most heartening numbers for social conservatives this year are the following: 1 president, 2 houses of Congress, 4 big promises.
The sanctity of life played a tremendous part in the 2016 presidential election, and President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to pro-life voters were a big part of the coalition that arguably brought him over the finish line.
And he made some pretty big promises, too.
Now with a Republican-run legislative and executive branch stacked up to govern in January, there’s literally no reason whatsoever not to defund Planned Parenthood, replace Justice Scalia’s seat with a pro-life constitutionalist, pass and sign a pain-capable abortion ban, and make the Hyde Amendment permanent law.
2016 has indeed been a doozy, but — for pro-lifers, at least — the numbers are looking good for the year to come. (For more from the author of “5 Things Pro-Lifers Have to Celebrate as 2016 Comes to a Close” please click HERE)