How Americans Really Feel About Abortion

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from The Gray Area:
5/3/22; updated 5/6/22:

With the leak last night of a SCOTUS draft opinion which states that Roe v Wade should be overturned and the issue returned to the states, to no one’s surprise, a rash of emotional commentary on abortion has immediately arisen. The left is throwing up polls which show overwhelming support for abortion. The right has presented polls which show a majority prefer banning abortion after 15 weeks. Both are true.

So, what does that mean?

It means that if you did a poll asking people to take away their college loans, you will get a majority saying sure, make my life easier.  If you do a poll saying reduce my taxes, same thing.  That doesn’t make either result practical or ethical.

It means with any poll these days you have to first examine the source (left or right leaning) and second who were the survey responders (Dems or Reps). Most media polls are heavily weighted to Democrat responders. Thus, since Democrats support abortion by 89%, an overwhelming result in a mainstream media poll favoring abortion is not surprising, nor inaccurate as far as it goes. But, it is misleading, as is everything in the mainstream media.

Same thing on the right. They cherry pick poll data to highlight the lack of support for abortion in certain circumstances. Since it goes deeper into the polling, you could argue these polls are more revealing, but, they are still incomplete.

Historically, opinions on abortion go something like this according to a 2012 Gallup poll.  Gallup asked: Do you think abortion should be legal in most circumstances or only in a few circumstances? The results to this question were as follows:

  • Legal under any circumstance 25%
  • Legal under most circumstances 13%
  • Legal only in a few circumstances 39%
  • Illegal in all cases 20%
  • No opinion 3%

Its easy to get an 80% abortion support from this breakdown (77%). It is also easy to get a majority that wants limitations on abortion (59%). And it is easy to see a plurality of support in the middle (39%). Therefore, broad abortion support polling is not presenting an appropriate illustration of American opinions on abortion which are much more nuanced.  Plus, popular support means a majority of people, which depends on ‘where’ you take the poll.  If you poll people in NYC or LA, you get overwhelming support. Not some much in Kentucky, North Dakota or Idaho. The map below doesn’t look like a vast majority.

It also means that if abortion is so popular, why after 49 years has Congress never passed a law codifying abortion? Certainly in 49 years the opportunity and the votes would have been there.  Could it be that abortion is not so universally popular that even Democrats in certain states could not vote for it without losing their job? Kind of makes you think the people in each state have very different opinions and should have the ability to decide for themselves. Consider these 7 charts that explain the reality of abortion thinking in America. Here’s one for example:

What countries share the American Pro-Choice position on abortion? China, North Korea, Vietnam and Canada. Is a position on abortion that compares with China, North Korea & Vietnam extreme? It would appear so.

What is Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life?   Pro-Choice can mean any of the ‘legal’ opinions above, including those who want abortion to be legal, with significant restrictions and rare.  It also means those who want abortion to be legal, frequent, up to the mother at any time during or after the pregnancy & free. Pro-Life is understood to represent those who want abortion banned and that life begins at conception. But, some Pro-Lifers want abortion legal, rare and with certain exceptions such as the life of the mother, rape & incest. There is no real difference between some in Pro-Life & Pro-Choice. The 39% above probably represents that group.

It means that people don’t understand what Roe v Wade actually says and what a SCOTUS repeal of the decision would mean.  Roe said abortion was legal during the first trimester without government interference. If the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Court decision, they send it to the individual states for the people to decide.  States have expanded that first trimester limitation in Roe since 1973 anyway. And, abortion advocates in several states have recently added post birth abortions as an option.  Only 6% believe in such an option.  Who are those people?  And, why are they so afraid of people deciding abortion in their communities/states?  Isn’t that the democracy the left is always complaining is at risk? Why does it have to be the federal government who decides? And, if the federal government decides, don’t you think science should be considered and a unborn baby should have some rights, too?

It also means that most Americans do not understand what abortion is. We have been kept from seeing what happens during an abortion. Told it is no big deal.   See people highlighted who have had 3, 4 or 5 abortions and are happy.  But, those who are emotional wrecks, had a bad abortion experience or regret doing it have been censored. Potential abortion clients have been kept from seeing sonograms of babies in utero. They have been kept from seeing science that explains the fetus is not just a ‘mass of cells’.  It has been proven that when people are made aware of those details, their opinion on abortion changes.

Forbes has compiled a review of various current polls on abortion and presented them in the article below. This is a fair review of abortion polling and breaks down results into 15 important categories. It thus provides a good review of American opinion on abortion and I would recommend you read it.

If you look at this map from the Washington Post on potential trigger laws if Roe v Wade is overturned, in addition to seeing that fact, you also get a clear picture of where abortion would be legal or not. In major Democrat states it would be legal, in major Republican states it would be illegal, to some degree. No surprises and consistent with the polling review from Forbes. Consider also that national popularity polls show you what the majority of the population says.  The majority of that population resides in 10 or 11 Democrat cities.  Those are very isolated majorities. They are apparent in national Presidential elections and abortion possibilities array consistently in this map.

The abortion issue, like climate change, guns and all the other issues of our time, is complicated by political narratives.  This ‘spin’ on the real issue, by media and politicians, clouds perspective and in some cases changes the entire argument.  On the left you hear narratives like, ‘my body, my choice’, ‘how can men decide what a woman does with her body’, ‘abortion is a woman’s right’, abortion is woman’s healthcare’, ‘it is just a mass of cells’, and many others. Rape & incest has been used as a reason to challenge a 6 week heartbeat law.  So you have to ask yourself, how long does it take for a woman to know they have been raped? 6 mos? 6 wks? 6 days? Or, 6 secs?

On the right, it is spun as the ‘murder of an innocent baby’ and that ‘life begins at conception’.

The abortion issue is not about political narratives.  It is simply about how we feel about terminating the life of a child after conception. End of story.  How do we feel about that, individually, ethically and socially?

The founders knew that issues would develop in this country that they had not foreseen and determined in the Constitution how to handle such unforeseen issues. Any issue not listed in the Constitution as under federal authority would be left up to the ‘individual ‘states to handle. Abortion is such an issue. Legally & constitutionally this is very simple. Abortion is not a right in the Constitution, never has been. Nationally mandated abortion has been unconstitutional and thus should be overturned as unconstitutional.

The right thing to do in America would be to stop killing babies (62M so far) and put responsibility for the choice at the beginning, prior to sex, not at the end, when the child has already been conceived. However, legislating morality is a sticky issue. The place for that is in the cultural design of a community. If you live in a state that differs with your views on the issue, you still have options.

Therefore, legality within the Constitution is the best way to handle it. Decide it in your community/state. That way the nuanced views, differing widely by community/state, can both be satisfied.

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