The Washington Post reports that Nancy Keenan, the head of the group formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League, is stepping down:
States passed a record 92 abortion restrictions in 2011, more than any other year since Roe. The lesson that Keenan took away then, was that elections matter. So do the voters who will soon dominate them.
Millennials will make up 40 percent of the electorate by 2020, and Keenan questions whether she’s the right leader to reach these new groups.
“This issue has got to be a voting issue for them,” Keenan said. “If we want to continue protecting abortion rights in this country, this is so clearly the case.”
NARAL’s research, however, suggests it has a ways to go: Young voters do not make abortion rights a priority at the polls. In 2010, the group’s poll of 700 young Americans showed a stark “intensity gap” on abortion. Most antiabortion voters under 30 (51 percent) considered it a “very important” voting issue. Among abortion-rights millennials, that number stood at 26 percent.
“There is an intensity gap between our side, being pro-choice, and the other side,” Keenan said.
In other words, gay marriage is the social issue that cuts in Obama's favor with young voters, and abortion is the social issue that cuts in Romney's favor with young voters. According to Gallup, only 40 percent of young young voters think abortion should be legal in any/most circumstances, and 59 percent think it should be legal in only a few/no circumstances:
As another Gallup report notes, younger voters had been the most supportive of abortion until 2000:
Gallup analysis of U.S. public opinion trends on abortion shows that generational differences in support for broadly legal abortion have diminished over the past decade. In the mid-1970s, when Gallup started polling on the issue, adults aged 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 were the most supportive of legal abortion under any circumstances, and those 65 and older the least, with 50- to 64-year-olds falling in between. That pattern continued through the late 1990s. Since 2000, however, all age groups with the exception of seniors have shown similar levels of support for broadly legal abortion
What caused the slide in support for abortion around 2000? It could be that these young adults came of age during the 1990s, a period when the use of ultrasounds increased and the abortion debate focused on partial-birth abortion.