This week shock-jock Michael Voris posted an apocalyptic video questioning the entire pro-life movement based upon supposed evidence that abortion numbers aren’t declining. Not citing any sources, he proclaimed that chemical abortions aren’t tracked and comprise a quarter of all abortions. Therefore, he said, these must be added to the million+ abortions every year, which basically comes out to a number that shows abortions are not declining.
While Voris appears to make a convincing case in his six-minute video, he is wrong. Not only is he wrong, but he is irresponsible to spread this faulty logic.
What Voris Claims: Chemical (“medical”) abortions aren’t included in the overall abortion totals.
Fact: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute both track numbers for surgical and chemical (like RU-486) abortions. Table 11 of the CDC’s most recent report in 2011 shows this.
What Voris Claims: The numbers of abortions aren’t going down. They are the same as they were 15 years ago.
Fact: Abortions are going down, from a high of 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.06 million in 2011. But there’s more. The American population has also increased by 100 million since abortion was legalized in 1973 so the rate of abortion is also declining. Since the early 80s, the rate of abortion has been declining and since 1990, the actual number of abortions has been declining. RU-486 was legalized in 2000 — well after abortion numbers started to decline — as such, it is inaccurate to say that the legalization of RU-486 is responsible for the reduction in the U.S. abortion rate. The trend data on the national abortion rate is here and the chart is below:
What Voris Claims: Chemical/medical abortion clinics are not included in the tally of abortion clinics – just surgical clinics – so it is not true that the number of abortion clinics is decreasing.
Fact: The number of both chemical and surgical abortion clinics is closely tabulated. While the number of abortion clinics that commit chemical abortions have risen, since there obviously were none before 2000, the total number of abortion clinics has still decreased drastically in the past several years from a high of 2,172 in 1991 to 737 today. Again, this number includes both chemical and surgical clinics. Additionally, states enacted 205 laws on abortion restrictions from 2011-2013, hampering abortion providers and closing clinics.
What Voris Claims: There has been little change about people’s opinions about abortions.
Fact: Public opinion data can be looked at in a variety of ways, especially depending upon how the questions are asked. But it is undeniable that the percentage of people who identify as “pro-life” has increased. In the mid-1990s only about 33 percent of Americans identified as pro-life according to Gallup. However, in 2009 for the first time, a majority of respondents in a Gallup poll identified as “pro-life”. Also the General Social Survey which has been asking the same battery of questions on abortion since the early 1970s also finds an increase in pro-life sentiment.
And from Gallup, this shows the gains that the pro-life position has made over time:
And another reason for hope: the General Social Survey shows that young people went from being the most “pro-choice” demographic group in the 1970s to being the most “pro-life” demographic in 2000s (see chart below from Wilcox/Carr). We are reaching the hearts and minds of America’s youth and there is reason for optimism.
While his video may seem compelling, Voris’ claims are unsubstantiated and, while worthless, are harmful to the pro-life cause. The legalization of abortion was, and still is, devastating to our nation, to families, to women and to preborn babies. And while overturning Roe and Doe haven’t happened as quickly as they should have, we know cultural shift takes time, decades to enact. And that’s happening right now.
With over 838 pro-life groups on college, high-school, and medical school campuses across the nation, Students for Life of America sees this culture shift every day. We see the win before our eyes. Perhaps, Voris should join us on a campus instead of trying to shock and dismay his audience.
Further, even if the pro-life movement was not winning (which clearly is not the case), what was the reason for Voris’ video? To simply dissuade people from joining the movement? To tell them to give up hope? There’s never a reason for that. Winning social movements don’t tell people they are losing. Christians don’t give up hope because we know we serve something greater, One who is Hope.
Perhaps Michael Voris should leave ending abortion up this pro-life generation.
Special thanks to Jill Stanek and Michael New, both respected pro-life experts, who helped me immensely sort through the fact vs. fiction of Michael Voris’ video.