Back in the day, the day being the last semester of grade eight, I attended a school run by a Baptist church. I knew a lot of very conservative evangelical Christians. They were all really nice, caring people. I think they would all have literally given the shirt off their back to someone in need.
Around this time, I was becoming more politically aware and beginning to follow both Canadian and American politics. My opinions tended to be much more liberal than those of most of my peers and teachers. And this was fine. My grade eight history teacher, a conservative Christian like all the others at the school, encouraged my class to talk about the hot topics of the day, one of which was, of course, abortion. And while he made his own opinions quite clear, he definitely wanted us to form our own, not to parrot his. This is beside my point, though. The point is the opinion I consistently heard about abortion rights from the conservatives—adults and teens alike—that I interacted with. They always—always—stressed that abortions should be available for women who were raped or whose life was at risk from the pregnancy. Always.* (They may have venerated a rape survivor’s choice not to terminate a pregnancy as a Christian thing to do, but this was always a choice.)**
That was more than ten years ago. Now I hear on a regular basis about politicians speaking in support of and even trying to enact legislation that would ban abortion even in those cases. I’m pretty sure that, even a few U.S. election cycles ago, no mainstream politician could have gotten away with saying such a thing. I glanced through some Gallup data, and it seems that the proportion of the American population that believes abortion should be legal “under certain circumstances” hasn’t changed much over the past decade. If public opinion hasn’t changed dramatically, why has public discourse changed? Or is it just my perception that it has?
*Data from Gallup: As of last year, about 70% of self-identified pro-lifers believe abortion should be legal to protect the health or life of the mother, and about 60% support abortion rights for rape/incest victims.
**Then again, maybe all those people, had I asked, would have claimed that date rape wasn’t really rape, because, you know, that slut shouldn’t have been drinking/partying in the first place.