Richard John Neuhaus
Special to The Interim

The demographics of the abortion controversy are often overlooked. Recent months have seen a number of reports indicating that opposition to abortion is growing dramatically among young people. In a Gallup survey of youth aged 13 to 17, only 19 percent said that abortion should be legal in all circumstances (the current regime of Roe v. Wade) while 72 per cent said that abortion is morally wrong and should be entirely prohibited (32 per cent) or permitted only in rare instances (40 per cent). Undoubtedly related to these changes is the fact that pro-life couples have an average of three children, while pro-choicers average only one child. Of course, children do not always, to put it gently, agree with their parents on abortion or anything else, but one cannot discount parental influence. Moreover, there is the deeply poignant but seldom-mentioned factor that millions of people born in the last 30 years know that they have a brother or sister, or even brothers and sisters, who were aborted. I have often tried to imagine what I would think were I one of those children missing a sibling. “Honey,” mom explains, “we just weren’t ready for another baby.” I know the pro-abortion people say that a child told this is filled with warm feelings that he or she was really wanted. Maybe so, but I expect there are many more who cannot erase from their minds that mom had their brother or sister killed. Not to mention the moral and spiritual ramifications of knowing that their existence was contingent not upon an act of nature or gift of God, but solely upon their parents’ decision. “Thanks for not having me killed, mom.” That touches upon the spiritually weird and murky, but I expect it has a great deal to do with the growing number of young people who view abortion with horror.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus is editor-in-cheif of First Things, where this article originally appeared in the June/July issue.