The primary reason why the anti-vaccine movement has remained strong is that vaccines have been so successful. People no longer know of the horrors of Polio, or even a Measles case gone sideways, so they don’t realize it is a horror. Nor do they realize how important it is to advocate for vaccines, as they think it’s a solved problem.
Something similar has happened with the pro-choice movement in the US.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, the country’s oldest abortion rights group, struggled with fundraising after the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision came out. The group’s contributions fell off “drastically” when supporters thought the legal right to abortion had finally been secured.
“If you have a president who supports abortion rights, people may think they are protected and [there is] no need to contribute time or money to the movement,” says Suzanne Staggenborg, who has written extensively on the pro-choice movement.
Anti-choicers, in contrast, have the fear of
SatanObama to drive their activism.
States passed a record 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, more than the entire 30 years prior. As a result, many abortion providers are closing down. One survey, from pro-life group Operation Rescue, estimates that 87 separate locations ceased to perform surgical abortions in 2013. These changes are a clear result of pro-life mobilization in the Obama era.
“Abortion access has changed dramatically,” says Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute. “The debate at the federal level affected what happened at the state level, and accessing abortion is much more difficult in 2014 than it was in 2009.”
This is why it’s critical to not rest on your laurels when you think you’ve won, because you may have given your opponents the motivation they need to make you lose. It’s also why I, as a citizen of “abortion-happy” Canada keep hammering on about abortion. My fellow countrypeople are waaaay too complacent about abortion access in Canada, when they should be outraged.