New Quinnipiac University poll shows strong majorities to limit abortion

By Dave Andrusko

Poll080213Thanks to the tremendous coverage of the ultimately successful battle in Texas, more than ever pollsters and news outlets are probing the question whether the public supports a ban on abortions at 20 weeks, a time by which unborn babies can experience pain. We’ve discussed this several times before and will two more times today, so noteworthy are the positive results.

This post will address what a Quinnipiac University poll, conducted July 28-31, found. (See

Before getting into the poll’s specifics, it is important to understand why opinion is shifting on abortion because of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

There is a shift because the public is being educated to the facts of fetal physiology. They have come to understand that they (a) don’t realize how late in pregnancy unborn babies are aborted, and (b) haven’t the first clue that the unborn can feel pain by 20 weeks.

And each time they look at a marker–like the capacity to feel pain–they not only say to themselves, “I didn’t know that,” but “What else don’t I know about abortion and the unborn child?”

Here’s the awkwardly worded conclusion to the Quinnipiac University poll:

“On another matter, the Republican-led effort in Congress and in many state capitols to reduce from 24 weeks to 20 weeks the time period during a pregnancy in which almost all abortions should be legal is striking a chord with voters. A total of 55 percent want a 20-week limit while 30 percent favor the current 24 week limit.”

The question respondents were actually asked shares the same basic flaw a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll contained:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said abortion is legal without restriction in about the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Some states have passed laws reducing this to 20 weeks. If it has to be one or the other, would you rather have abortions legal without restriction up to 20 weeks, or up to 24 weeks?”

Obviously, this leads the listener to conclude that abortion is only legal the first 24 weeks, which is demonstrable not true–many jurisdictions allow abortion with no limitation or no meaningful limitation until birth.

But if you add the 7% who say abortion should never be legal, 55% becomes 62%. (It was a combined 66% in the Post/ABC News poll.) The total opting for 24 weeks was 31% (30% plus 1% percent who said always legal).

However the most interesting results are found in the crosstabs in which the respondents were broken down into categories. The figure in parentheses includes those who said abortion should never be legal; the figure in brackets is for those who chose 24 weeks plus “always legal.”

* 62% (79%) [18%] Republicans

* 59% (65%) [28%] Independents

* 46% (49%) [45%] Democrats

Then, it really gets interesting:

· Women 60% (68%] [27%]

· Men 50% (56%) [36%]

· Single Women 57% (66%) [30%]

How about young people 18-29?

56% (57%) [39%]

It’s impossible to miss the conclusion. Although the question is deeply misleading, the public supports a 20 week limit by 2-1 over 24 weeks –62% to 31%.

Married women prefer the 20 week limit by an over 2-1 margin, single women by just under a 2-1 advantage.

Men, Independents, and young people also strongly prefer 20 weeks.