I met someone at a dinner party the other night and she asked me if I was married.  I said I had been married for almost twenty five years. 

“Who’s winning?” was her response.

It’s been decades since the Roe v Wade decision was handed down.  Since then, we’ve had years and years of constant warfare (literally, at times), never-ending debates, marches to the Supreme Court, battles on Capitol Hill.  It is exhausting to think about all the time and energy that has been put into this one issue. 

So, who’s winning?

Well, it’s hard to say.

The pro-life movement has clearly failed to accomplish their ultimate goal:  to make abortion illegal in this country.   In the early 1980’s, they tried to pass a constitutional amendment banning abortion and failed miserably.  Since then, legislation has been introduced every Congress  declaring that life begins at conception but in all of those years not only have those bills not been voted on, they’ve only been the subject of one congressional hearing.  Even when Congressman Henry Hyde, one of the staunchest pro-life leaders in the Congress, was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, he never pushed any measure outlawing abortion because he knew he simply did not have the votes.   At the same time, however, pro-lifers have successfully prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions, but at the same time, pro-choicers were able to enact the “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act” in the 1990’s.

In some states, pro-lifers have successfully passed laws restricting access to abortion services (e.g., parental consent laws, twenty four hour waiting periods).  But it’s really hard to say what kind of impact these laws have had on the availability of abortion services.  On the other hand, in some states and cities, pro-choice groups have passed laws protecting clinics by erecting “bubble zones.”    

As far as the Supreme Court, they’ve been all over the place.  The majority still tenuously supports Roe v Wade, but they outlawed the “partial birth abortion” procedure and gave the states the right to enact certain restrictions on access to abortion.    

So, where the hell does that leave us? 

Polls show that the majority of Americans support abortion rights but they are also uncomfortable with the abortion procedure.  They also do not want abortion to be used casually.  Still, polls can be sketchy and, depending on how you ask the question, you can usually make a poll come out the way you want. 

I think both sides agree that we want to reduce the number of abortions.  And, over the last decade or so, the number of abortions has actually decreased.  Now, I can’t say why this has happened.  Maybe that is fodder for a future blog. 

 But, if reducing the number of abortions is a common goal, then both sides are winning.