Who Cares More? Pro-Lifers or Pro-Choicers?

By Lauren Enriquez Published on January 26, 2017

The young pro-life majority took Nancy Keenan, former president of vocal abortion lobby group NARAL, by surprise. Keenan told Newsweek in 2010 that she was shocked by the sheer numbers at the March for Life. “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young. There are so many of them, and they are so young.”

Millennials comprise the most outspoken and arguably most effective cohort of the pro-life movement. In fact, campus groups committed to abolishing abortion now dwarf the number of pro-abortion campus groups by 4-to-1.

And they’re not the only ones.

The Intensity Gap

The chasm between abortion zeal and pro-life enthusiasm constitutes a serious intensity gap. In 2014, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser cited her own experience as an example of how pro-lifers exhibit greater passion for ending abortion than abortion advocates do for promoting it.

“When I was really strongly pro-choice,” she said, “I didn’t go to bed thinking, Oh, my gosh, women can’t be free unless they have abortion; what am I going to do tomorrow? Now I’m going to sleep thinking, Oh, my gosh, thirty-eight hundred children are going to die tomorrow. What am I going to actually do to save some of them?”

Dannenfelser’s pro-abortion fervor was deep but failed to incite the fervor she has spearheaded as a pro-life leader. And it’s not hard to see why pro-lifers are more motivated to succeed, when lives literally depend on their active engagement in ending the abortion holocaust. There is no question that the abortion movement faces a crisis of enthusiasm. We see this when, for example, the industry recruits paid activists to create a façade of public enthusiasm for abortion while pro-life advocates invest their own time and money in pro-life activism year-round.

Imagine what kind of change the pro-life movement could effect if all of the Americans who believed abortion to be morally wrong engaged in the pro-life cause.

What is perhaps most interesting is this pro-life culture change has been spurred by a minority of engaged pro-lifers. According to a 2015 omnibus survey commissioned by Human Coalition and conducted by Russell Research, only a fraction of the Americans who view abortion as morally wrong participate in efforts, such as giving money to pro-life organizations, to save babies from abortion.

The survey found that 21 percent of Americans comprised the most pro-life category — those who strongly agree that abortion is morally wrong. And of that 21 percent, only two-thirds do anything (discuss pro-life issues with someone, vote pro-life, donate to a pregnancy center or pro-life organization, etc.) to further the pro-life cause. In other words, the involvement of a miniscule 14 percent of the American public has ostensibly spurred enormous change in the trajectory of abortion in the United States.

Engaged pro-lifers, though seemingly few, clearly pack a big punch. Imagine what kind of change the pro-life movement could effect if all of the Americans who believed abortion to be morally wrong engaged in the pro-life cause. Abortion, without question, would, to borrow a phrase from Vice President Mike Pence, quickly be relegated to the “ash heap of history.”


Lauren Enriquez is the Public Relations Manager at Human Coalition, one of the nation’s largest pro-life organizations in the United States. Human Coalition utilizes data and metrics, technology and compassionate strategies to rescue children and families from abortion in key cities nationwide.

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