By Dave Andrusko
In a post sent out earlier today, we talked about how abortion poll data can be teased, tortured, or trivialized to reach the appropriate pro-abortion conclusion. Let’s end NRL News Today’s stories for Thursday with a second post on an abortion poll that is fascinating.
The Huffington Post, in conjunction with YouGov, ran a poll, the results of which were published today, which found “Most Americans would favor sweeping new national restrictions on abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy.” And “sweeping” it was.
“By a margin of 59 percent to 30 percent, respondents to the new poll said they would favor a federal law banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy,” write Emily Swanson and Mark Blumenthal.
2-1, that’s good, but let’s look a little deeper.
As a colleague at NRLC observed, the question makes a fundamental error (to be charitable). It reads, “Would you favor or oppose a federal law that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape or incest?”
What’s missing? An exception for the life of the mother, which the bill passed by the United States House of Representatives contains. Add that and the approval figure would undoubtedly be higher.
There follows some crosstabs which—surprise, surprise—offer conclusions favorable to a pro-abortion site like the Huffington Post. Stay with me on what Swanson and Blumenthal describe as “conflicting attitudes.”
First, we learn that
“When asked about the morality of abortion, for example, roughly half say they consider abortion ‘morally wrong’ (49 percent), while more than one-third say it is either ‘morally acceptable’ (12 percent) or ‘not a moral issue’ (24 percent). Another 15 percent are unsure.’”
Just so we’re clear, by a roughly 4-3 margin (49% to 36%), Americans are more likely to say abortion is morally wrong than it is morally acceptable or not a moral issue. And I would love to ask those who say abortion is not a moral issue what they mean by that.
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Second, 40 years of polling tells you many things but one thing for absolutely certain. If you want to load the question to the point of caricature, just ask respondents if they want a “woman and her doctor” making the abortion decision or the “government.” In the Huffington Post poll the former garners 63%, the latter 26%.
Thus people supposedly have “conflicting attitudes” because some of those who say abortion is morally wrong balk at having “the government” make the decision (as if the United States and China are on the same moral plane).
But the most interesting finding may be how uncomfortable these abortions make people. Note that according to Swanson and Blumenthal, 30% of the respondents who ”gave pro-abortion rights responses” to the two questions nonetheless said they were in favor of the ban on abortions “after the 20th week of pregnancy.”