Understanding state polling on abortion requires a look at the full context

By Dave Andrusko

We (or at least I do) tend to focus most of our attention on the unmitigated pro-abortion outpourings from national media outlets, particularly their polling.

You’d think it would be hard to compete with the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post and three major television networks.

But the Des Moines [Iowa] Register gives all of them a run for their money. 

Its “Iowa poll” (which goes back to 1943) is a tool it has weaponized to attack every pro-life Republican and every pro-life initiative. 

We’ve talked about the distortion factor before but the Register’s determination to un-elect pro-life Republicans and throttle pro-life initiatives grows ever stronger.

Besides sharpening its knives for Sen. Charles Grassley (a perennial target) and Gov. Kim Reynolds, another prime target is a proposed amendment to the state Constitution.

Back in late February, the Iowa Senate Government Committee approved Senate Joint Resolution 2, a companion measure to HJR5 which the full House approved on January 27. 

If passed by both houses in consecutive legislative sessions and approved by the voters in 2024, the measure would amend the state constitution to flatly state that “Iowa does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”

Ratification would require a simple majority, rather than 60% or two-thirds. Last year the Senate passed a similar measure only to have it fail in the House.

The Register was back at it again today in an article written by Ian Richardson under the headline, “Iowa Poll: Less than a third of Iowans support anti-abortion constitutional amendment.” After you get past the headline, you quickly learn that very little has changed from a year ago, even though the state’s largest and by far most influential newspaper bashes proponents unmercifully.

  • Only two percent fewer support the amendment that did a year ago; just four percent more oppose it. 
  • Media bias aside, here are two additional considerations to keep in mind.
  • #1. The amendment is needed because the state Supreme Court rummaged around  the state constitution and in 2018 found a “right” to abortion tucked away. In so doing, as the National Catholic Register reported, the Court “struck down a 72-hour waiting period for abortion, on the grounds that “‘a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution.’ The proposed amendment would nullify the court’s finding.” 
  • Ask Iowans how they feel about commonsense legislation such as a waiting period or parental involvement or state funding of abortion and I suspect you will find strong support for all three. 
  • #2. Pro-life amendments to the state Constitution can and have been passed. As is the case in Iowa (and other states), that may be the only way to return sanity. But you always face the unbridled hostility of the state’s leading media outlets which shape—distort—the debate to the favor of pro-abortionists. 

For example, the Des Moines Register.