Salvo Magazine | Karen Swallow Prior | Spring, 2008
In 2005, according to an annual survey of college freshmen by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, “only” 54.5 percent of first-year students agreed that “abortion should be legal.” What this tells us is that when college kids first arrive on campus, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with idealism, they exhibit a relative enthusiasm for life—that is, until the leftists and secularists who overwhelm academia dig their claws into them. Once this happens, research indicates that even the sizable minority who go so far as to actually count themselves pro-life is doomed to diminish. (And this surely can’t be the result of learning per se, since virtually all of history’s great thinkers—from Hippocrates to Maimonides to Mary Wollstonecraft—have opposed elective abortion.)
A 1996 Gallup poll of women’s attitudes toward abortion showed that women with only a high-school education are more pro-life (47 percent) than pro-choice (37 percent). Among women who attend college without completing a four-year degree, the percentage who are pro-choice jumps to 59 percent. And among those who complete a four-year degree, the percentage identifying themselves as pro-choice skyrockets to 73 percent. You can imagine what happens in graduate school. Actually, you don’t need to imagine what happens to pro-life attitudes in graduate school because I can tell you.
Facts of Life
Of course, viewpoint discrimination isn’t the worst thing that can happen in an academic environment that’s hostile to the protection of innocent human life. Although no studies on the rate of abortion among college students have been conducted, we do know that college-aged women obtain more abortions than any other age group. The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), the research arm of Planned Parenthood (America’s largest abortion provider and the most thorough keeper of abortion statistics), reports that the rate of abortion among women aged 20-24 is 47 abortions per 1,000 women. AGI indicates that the high abortion rate among these women reflects not only an above-average pregnancy rate (which might be expected for reasons both sociological and biological), but also a higher proportion than in other age groups of pregnancies ending in abortion (29 percent). Furthermore, while the abortion rate overall has been declining steadily—and fairly dramatically in recent years—this age group has seen markedly less decline than other groups: While between 1994 and 2000, the rate dropped by as much as 39 percent among teenagers, the rate changed by only 10 percent or less among women aged 20 or older.
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