America Meets Sarah Palin and Becomes More Pro-Life

(h/t Valerie)

Today marks a great victory for “the people of life and for life.”

Gallup issued the following article on their recent polling:

A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42% “pro-choice.” This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

[…]

The new results, obtained from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.

The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.

And here’s a fascinating tidbit for the Palin nation:

Additionally, a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center recorded an eight percentage-point decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, from 54% to 46%. The percentage saying abortion should be legal in only a few or no cases increased from 41% to 44% over the same period.

A sharp decline since last August? Hmmm, what happened last August?

Oh, yes. Hurricane Sarah happened. And she introduced the nation to her beautiful and perfect son Trig.

Nothing is an accident.

She said in her Evansville speech:

There has been great purpose in what I went through this past year.

Yes, there has.

We don’t all have to agree on this issue. Many good people disagree. And many have come to see the issue differently because of Sarah Palin.

I’d like to share a long comment that our reader “DB” (whose eloquence has been featured on this website before) left in today’s Open Thread:

Several on this thread have commented about the new poll by Gallup which shows, for the first time since they’ve asked this question, the majority of Americans now identify them selves as pro-life.

If true, this really is big news. It also seems to run counter to many of the recent political trends in the country such as the proliferation of states in which gay marriage has been adopted and, of course, the election of the most radically extreme pro-abortion president in the country’s history. If the Gallup poll is accurate, what has caused this sea change in public opinion? Why the return to a more traditional view on life now, despite other trends in the opposite direction?

I can’t help but think Governor Palin may have something to do with this. In fact, I would go so far as to say that she and her rise to prominence has more to do with it than any other single factor. Allow me to explain why I believe this to be the case.

I have always been from the Libertarian wing of conservatism. In other words, I look at every issue (and I do mean every issue), in a limited government context. Whichever side of an issue results in less government is the side of that issue I come down on. As a result, I have found myself on the side of Republicans on almost every issue ever since I first voted in the 1980 election, about 5 weeks after my 18th birthday (I voted for Reagan by the way). There is, however, one notable exception…abortion. Having said that, I never considered abortion to be a particularly salient issue so I’ve always voted Republican anyway.

The ardent pro-choice crowd maintains they don’t want the government to intrude in the bedroom. I can’t argue with that. But, I could never support them because they are perfectly fine with having the government intrude on every other aspect of my life.

As an aside, even as a generally pro-choice individual, I instinctively knew that Roe vs. Wade was a terrible decision. In Roe, the court manufactured a right to an abortion out of thin air based on some amorphous generalized right to privacy that was itself manufactured out of thin air in the Griswold case (I seem to recall taking a con law class in college). Although I’m not a lawyer, there certainly seems to be a gaping lack of intellectual vigor in that kind of logic (or illogic as the case may be). But I digress.

Ronald Reagan is, by far, my favorite president for too many reasons to list. However, as much as I admired and respected him, my libertarian position on abortion never wavered, even when he spoke out on the issue. To be sure, during the 1980s I was in college and was consumed with more important issues such as wine, women, and song, to quote an old cliché. I was, however, paying enough attention to politics in the 1980s to know that Judge Bork was unfairly attacked by the liberals and I even felt compelled, notwithstanding my busy social calendar, to write a letter to the editor of my very liberal campus newspaper supporting Bork. Much to my surprise it was printed. So, despite my libertarian inclinations, I usually find myself on the same side as the pro-life voters, even if I didn’t consider myself pro-life per se. This I would sometimes ponder, but never to the point of resolution.

Last October I was sitting at home, flipping through the channels on TV, not very hopeful that I would find anything sufficiently interesting to warrant my attention. Unfortunately, I assumed, I would have to go outside and fire up the leaf blower, something I had been putting off all morning. As I desperately used my TV remote in my quest to avoid yard work, I landed on one of the news channels and the crawl at the bottom of the screen indicated Sarah Palin was about to speak at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. This was good news. Ever since John McCain selected her I was energized and couldn’t get enough of her speeches. Finding her on TV that Saturday was also good in that I now had a valid excuse (in my mind) to procrastinate a bit longer on the leaf-blowing. Anyway, I settled in and waited for her to begin speaking. I was not disappointed.

It was typical Sarah Palin: upbeat and inspirational yet personal. Only this time there was more. This speech was mesmerizing, for lack of a better word. Never in my life have I ever heard a more passionate yet utterly logical articulation of the pro-life position. Even Reagan never matched her eloquence on this issue. When she was finished, I recall sitting on the couch for an hour or so thinking about what she had just said.

For those who missed the speech, you can watch it here.

It was, to say the least, a fantastic speech. I thought it may have been impossible to ever top that speech when it comes to the pro-life issue. I was wrong. The speech she gave in Evansville on April 16 was even better. I won’t go into it here since we’ve all heard it several times and commented on it ad infinitum. I will say that it was the most personal speech I’ve ever heard by a politician. She left part of herself out on that stage in Evansville, and I have never heard any politician give a speech remotely like that before. I think that anyone who watches that speech or, better yet, both speeches, will come away with at least a new understanding of why people who are pro-life are, well, pro-life.

I can’t honestly say as I sit here today that I am still not a full-fledged pro-life individual, but I’m moving in that direction. These two speeches have forced me to completely rethink my position on this issue. At the very least I am now convinced that the pro-life argument is superior to the pro-choice argument…both logically and morally.

When I saw the Gallup poll today, I immediately connected the increase in support for the pro-life cause to Governor Palin. There is no better proponent of the pro-life position than Sarah Palin. If anyone has a chance of changing people’s hearts and minds on this issue, it is her. I can say this from personal experience.

She articulates her position on this issue better than anyone — both in her words and in her deeds. She doesn’t have to preach to make her point. To those who hear her speak, it is self evident. This is what scares the hell out of liberals and intellectuals in general and the militant pro-abortion crowd in particular, and why the mere mention of her name causes them to devolve into ranting incoherent lunatics.

They see how effective she is on this issue and worry how effective she will be on other issues they oppose — such as limited government, lower and flatter taxes, fiscal responsibility, energy independence, national defense, etc. They see an existential threat to their self-anointed monopoly on what is acceptable civil discourse on the issues of the day. In their minds, she must be stopped at all costs.

Well, as The Aged P would write, every time they think they have this Arctic Popeye beat, somehow she finds another can of spinach.

I think — actually, I would be so bold as to state that I know — that Sarah Palin views this issue as more important than electoral politics or national ambitions. It goes to the heart of our civilization.

And, again, we see “new signs of hope…for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.”

UPDATE by RAM: (h/t Pat) Here’s an interesting take on the Pew Research poll from last month:

One of the story lines most often heard these days, among Republicans attempting to explain Democrat victories of 2006 and 2008, is that the young people are ardent supporters of keeping abortion legal and are patently repelled by Republican pro-lifers.

The huge crowds, with a great many young people, following Sarah Palin last year on the campaign trail seem to have gone unnoticed by the D.C. crowd.

And wouldn’t you know it? The polling data supports those huge crowds for Palin and the young people inspired by her stout pro-life position, among other factors. Support for keeping abortion legal in most or all cases among the 18-29 year olds has fallen a full 5% since last August. In August 2008, legal abortion support among 18-29 year olds stood at 52%; this April it’s down to 47%. Support for making abortion illegal in most or all cases has risen 3% and is now at 48%.

UPDATE II by RAM: Our faithful friend TommyReport noted that even liberal writer Nate Silver gave credence to the possibility that Palin helped changed some hearts and minds on the issue of abortion. This is from an article titled “Is Public Opinion Changing on Abortion?”. Keep in mind that he wrote it before the current Gallup poll was released.

Polls don’t move without reasons, and abortion hasn’t been particularly in the news of late. Who knows — maybe Baby Trig won over a few hearts and minds — but odds are the Pew result is a mild outlier. Since the abortion choice question is surveyed quite frequently, we will know soon enough.

UPDATE III by RAM: Politico has an article on the new Gallup poll and includes this statment from Palin:

“This is promising news,” Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) told POLITICO through a spokeswoman. “Every life is precious and has purpose.”

By the way, if you would like to see what media bias looks like in its subtle form, read the opening to Andy Barr’s article at Politico:

A new Gallup Poll showing that for the first time a majority of Americans identify themselves as “pro-life” is providing a shot in the arm to abortion-rights opponents rallying against a new president and preparing for a coming Supreme Court nomination fight.

Notice the scare quotes around “pro-life.” Notice phrases like “rally against a new president” and the emphasis that pro-lifers are “opponents” of a right.

Is anyone in doubt about which side of the issue Andy Barr falls on? Can’t you just hear Andy wondering aloud, “Who are all of these stupid crazy Americans calling themselves ‘pro-life’?”

UPDATE IV by RAM: An astute reader notes that Barr also put “pro-choice” in quotes. Fair enough.



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