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A pro-baby wave

Optimistic signs point to a changing abortion debate

Societies change from the top down or the bottom up.

The abortion regime in the United States arrived via top-down imposition.

A Gallup poll in 1972 showed 66 percent of Americans opposing abortion legalization. That year Detroit newspapers heavily supported a Michigan referendum to establish abortion on demand through the first five months of pregnancy, but 61 percent of Michigan voters said no. In North Dakota, 77 percent of voters turned down a similar referendum. Nevertheless, in 1973 seven U.S. Supreme Court justices imposed their beliefs on the nation.

Over time, top-down pressures have an effect on popular sentiment. That's why Moody, the evangelical magazine, asked in 1980 whether evangelicals had been co-opted: "We've organized no protest. . . . The Catholics have called abortion 'The Silent Holocaust.' The deeper horror is the silence of the evangelical."

In the three decades since 1980, some evangelicals (including some pastors) have remained silent, but many have spoken up. So have many Catholics, yet there's been a reversal among political leaders: The first article in this issue's special section shows that Catholic colleges have become training grounds for pro-abort politicians, while evangelical college graduates have a better record.

Our second and third articles suggest that top-down abortion advocates in law, medicine, and journalism may start to feel some new bottom-up heat. Despite years of propaganda, polls last year-for the first time in two decades-showed that most Americans define themselves as pro-life. And pro-lifers are increasingly effective in helping women with crisis pregnancies make an informed choice: Those who turn to the internet for abortion information now see that they have pro-life options.

Other articles look at how the drug RU486 gives women the option of abortion in privacy-a lonely, painful, devastating privacy that brings guilt closer to home. We also look at bottom-up attempts to foster adoption and abstinence and top-down attempts to hinder pro-life pregnancy resource centers. We survey Planned Parenthood office closings and financial corruption, cases of botched and forced abortions, the use of fetal tissue in anti-aging creams, and other news.

Overall, we have optimism this year, but it's tethered to a brutal realization. The May 1980 issue of Moody magazine (which ceased publication in 2003) noted that 8 million American babies had been aborted since 1973. Now the butcher's bill is more than 50 million.

We need more bottom-up pressure and the ultimate top-down one: God changing the hearts of leaders and all of us.

Other Roe v. Wade articles in this issue:

Learning to wait | Denied federal funds, abstinence educators plan next moves | William McCleery

'Look after orphans' | Twenty ways to become an adoption-friendly church | Paul Golden

Chemical reaction | The drug RU486 gives women the option of abortion in privacy | Alisa Harris

Eyewitnesses | Ultrasound technology is one reason more Americans are becoming pro-life | Alisa Harris

Finding searchers | Pregnancy centers buy Google real estate to reach abortion-minded women | Emily Belz

Higher learning? | Catholic colleges have become training ground for pro-abortion politicians | Anne Hendershott

Life changes | Anti-CPC forces alter their tactics and auditors eye Planned Parenthood | Alisa Harris

Called to a cause | The pro-life movement won over Marjorie Dannenfelser, and now she's working to help it win over Congress | Marvin Olasky

'It all clicked together' | How one Christian volunteer found herself in the right place at the right time at a crisis pregnancy center in Texas | Susan Olasky

The telltale protests | The abortion issue did not die after Roe v. Wade | Andrée Seu

WORLD's Roe v. Wade archives:

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.