Survey finds fewer student supporters of abortion rights

Sean Madigan
Traditionally deemed liberal institutions, the nation’s college campuses have supported abortion rights, but a recent survey concluded that trend is shifting.
Down 14 percent from a decade ago, just 51 percent of college freshmen nationwide believe abortion should be legal, according to a recent survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles.
But the institute’s findings do not necessarily indicate that students are becoming more conservative. The number of students who rated themselves on the far right dropped 20 percent, an 11-year low, while the number of students on the far left hit a 14-year low. The majority of freshmen, 57 percent, rated themselves as politically centrist.
Although campus organizations such as University YW or Campus Crusade for Christ choose not to take a stance on the issue, both abortion rights and abortion opponents organizations say they are not surprised by the findings. They cite awareness and education as the reason for the change.
“Primarily people are being educated and learning what is physically taking place,” said Kent Berdahl of the Maranatha Christian Fellowship, which opposes abortion rights.
Berdahl attributes the rise in abortion opponents support to a backlash against the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He said students are now beginning to recognize the consequences of what he called rampant divorce rates and promiscuous sex.
“You can look at the carnage. There is a great emotional and spiritual toll being taken on society,” Berdahl said.
Abortion rights groups have been more vocal in recent years, said Christina Rieck of the University Coalition for Choice. She said it is difficult to garner support for something that is already legal.
“Women of our generation have always had that choice,” Rieck said. “It’s very hard to imagine what that type of world would be like.”
When the Supreme Court handed down the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 the issue focused more on women’s right of choice, not abortion opponents’ arguments for the rights of the fetus.
But Rieck still contends that the issue revolves around choice and not an individual’s moral constitution.
“Being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion,” Rieck said. “It’s a choice that women need in order to be healthy. They need to have access to a full range of health choices.”
The abortion controversy recently surfaced in the news, just days after the 26th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, when an Oregon jury ruled a Web site threatened the safety of abortion providers.
Neal Horsley’s site, “The Nuremburg Files,” listed among images of bloody aborted fetuses, the names, addresses and license plate numbers of doctors who perform abortions. Horsley’s site crossed off the names of doctors who were killed, creating what critics called a virtual hit list.
Last week a federal jury awarded abortion providers $107 million in damages.