Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Future

Just as a minor commencement fuss at Notre Dame was about to take place, a new poll was coming out stating that the majority 51% of Americans now considered themselves “pro-life”.

51% identify as 'pro-life' in U.S.
For the first time since it began asking the question in 1995, Gallup reported Friday, a majority of adults questioned for its annual survey on values and beliefs -- 51% -- said that when it comes to abortion, they consider themselves "pro-life"; 42% consider themselves "pro-choice." (The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.)

This represents a significant shift, Gallup noted. As recently as last year, 50% of respondents called themselves "pro-choice" and 44% identified themselves as "pro-life."

Why such a shift by as much as eight percentage points in such a short period of time? Does the terminology still mean what it used to?

Did the chorus of “me too” bishops protest against Obama at Notre Dame take hold?

Is it the wording of the question in the poll that effects the answer?

What is happening out there in America for such a sudden and large shift of opinion?

There are a couple things working here in terms of what might be happening. Abortion is the extreme end of birth control. Technology, chemistry and pharmaceuticals have taken great leaps while the cultural wars festered. When I read Plan B, an OTC next day birth control pill had just been put in the hands of children (?) - seventeen year olds – so many things have changed while labels of pro-life or pro-choice have stagnated in the language and mindset of the 1970s.

The world moves on.

As I mentioned in a previous article about how gay marriage was sweeping New England, something in terms of tastes, beliefs and demographics was happening outside my door in the New America and I was not aware of anything until it popped up on headlines.

So too, this change in people’s attitudes towards pro-life might be a change in age, tastes, beliefs, marketing analysis. Perhaps after eight years of people being afraid to possibly express themselves, they now feel freer to express themselves in terms of personal beliefs and feelings.

I look at the recent Newsweek Article – The End of Christian America - whereby Christian Identity has slipped ten percent in twenty years from 86 to 76 percent. The other significant tag on that study was the Unaffiliated label growing from 8 to 15 percent.

If people are not afraid to shed old labels and are willing to shoulder other labels, then things are indeed changing in America and probably faster than anybody notices or realizes the new dimensions in our society.

Please remember that the old nineteenth century moat around America world vision that the neo-cons wanted to and did impose for eight years has evaporated away. The global mindset is here and everywhere elsewhere on this planet.

I am not afraid of the pro-life label so long as pro-choice still exists or be a legal option. Who in any real sense can be against life?

The world moves on. Little wonder the President can be welcomed in a tolerant setting at Notre Dame and spoke so eloquently not in archaic semantics but in terms of the future …
…Your generation must decide how to save God's creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it. Your generation must seek peace at a time when there are those who will stop at nothing to do us harm, and when weapons in the hands of a few can destroy the many. And we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity _ diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief.

In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family…