Sociologists J. Alex Kevern and Jeremy Freese of Northwestern University in Illinois have released a study which reports that, though fertility has declined among both pro-life and pro-choice advocates in the United States, the former report larger family sizes. They say this has been a significant factor in the formation of Americans’ views on abortion, described as “mostly stable over the past two decades, or even more conservative,” as “cohort replacement explains most of this pattern.”

“Not only do opponents of abortion rights maintain considerably higher fertility than their pro-choice counterparts,” Kevern and Freese say, but “elsewhere abortion attitudes have been shown to have a high parent child correlation.” Over time, higher fertility rates among pro-life individuals combined with the influence of these parents on their children should increase the overall population of people who hold that position.

As Kevern and Freese note, an extrapolator from the first few years after Roe v. Wade “might have expected that those who believed women should be allowed an abortion for any reason would soon become a majority, and that abortion rights were on the way to becoming a matter of consensus, akin to many racial civil rights attitude items. Instead, this trend flattened, and in recent years has even shown some sign of reversal.”

Overall, pro-life individuals have had on average 27 per cent more children than ‘pro-choice’ individuals since 1973. The authors say “this cannot be explained simply by a broader trend toward higher fertility among those who are more politically conservative.”

Jeff Gunnarson, chair of Campaign Life Coalition’s Toronto office, said he is not surprised by the findings. “Ever since joining the pro-life movement, I often wondered when we would be able to see statistics showing the rising population among Christians – pro-lifers in particular – versus the general population,” Gunnarson told The Interim. “The results of this study give me hope that the culture can change when we’re open to welcoming new life.”

The data was taken from the General Social Surveys of 1973 to 2007, which include repeated cross-sectional survey of American adults and is considered the gold standard in social science research.