Last Saturday, my buddy and I sat around the house drinking beer and began doing exactly what any pair of normal inebriated college students would: discussing abortion rights. We talked about everything from scientific viewpoints on when life begins to the logical fallacies presented in Supreme Court cases such as Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. After what seemed like a very productive conversation, my friend seemed to forget everything we had talked about and reverted to the idea that if his girlfriend got pregnant today, he would want her to get an abortion for the sake of personal convenience.
My friend was suffering from what the psychology world calls cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs when the things you do, or in this case would do, and the things you believe do not coincide. Unfortunately for the pro-life movement, cognitive dissonance almost always ends with the individual changing their cognitions to match their (would be) actions. This means many young premarital couples tend to lean pro-choice even when they hold conservative views in many other parts of their ideological platform. This cognitive dissonance presents a relatively new problem for the conservative movement because Christian adherence in the united states, a major cause of pro-life views, has dropped nearly 10 percent since 2007. Even younger generations that consider themselves Christian are not nearly as strict in these views as their older counterparts.
This diminishing religiosity allows the aforementioned cognitive dissonance to take center stage in determining younger generations’ views on abortion. One of the problems with cognitive dissonance is that it occurs at the subconscious level. Young conservatives find themselves straying from the pro-life cause despite their logical cognitions telling them otherwise. Conservative lawmakers and pundits alike must recognize the internal conflict that these young voters struggle with throughout their teens and twenties and take a new approach in reaching out to them. Once this realization sets in, popular figureheads of the pro-life movement will become markedly more effective in swaying young voters.
The young pro-life movement is far from a lost cause. Every day, children are being born that will go on to be more educated than their parents. This increased educational background results in an increase in the ability to follow logical thought patterns. Aristotle argued that everything in the universe exists to fulfill its telos, or final purpose. He also said that humans were granted not only the ability to think logically but were also tasked with the responsibility to do so. These young voters have a longstanding desire to seek out the truth, and conservatives must recognize this as the most effective method of reaching out to them. Antiquated arguments about the wrath of God simply fall flat when reaching out to this demographic. Younger conservatives need to be shown the logical truth behind the pro-life movement, that the facts are on their side, and that charges of misogyny or bigotry are flaccid in the face of these facts.