An intelligent look at abortion polling from (of all places) the New York Times

By Dave Andrusko

Like Cicadas, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt emerges (in this case, every couple of years) to take a look at polling on the abortion issue. (See our take in 2017 and 2019).

I shouldn’t be too hard because Leonhardt evidences a fairness—a willingness to look at the “science,” you might say—rather than regurgitate pro-abortion talking points that is as rare as hen’s teeth at the New York Times. He wants to sharpen his readers’ understanding, not grind an axe.

Each of his posts that I’d examined previously were pegged to specific developments. Today’s “Morning Newsletter” is inspired by Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the state of Mississippi’s appeal in the case of its “Gestational Age Act,” a law enacted in 2018, but blocked  by Judge Carlton W. Reeves

In “How abortion views are different,” Leonhardt writes, “[W]hen you dig into the [abortion polling] data, you discover there are some clear patterns and objective truths,” and then lists five of them. In the interest of time, I will look at three.

#1. Some 60%-70% say they do not want Roe overturned. We have explained what is behind these numbers maybe twenty times. The simple answer is (a) most people are busy and they haven’t a real clue about the reign of terror unleashed 48 years ago—aka how radical Roe v. Wade was—and (b)also don’t know that if Roe were overturned, the result would be to shift the locus of decision making back to what was prior to 1973: abortion laws would largely be up to the individual states.  

I will quote #2 (which is also Leonhardt’s #2) almost in its entirely:

The most confounding aspect of public opinion is a contradiction between Americans’ views on Roe itself and their views on specific abortion policies: Even as most people say they support the ruling, most also say they favor restrictions that Roe does not permit.

Roe, for example, allows only limited restrictions on abortion during the second trimester, mostly involving a mother’s health. But less than 30 percent of Americans say that abortion should “generally be legal” in the second trimester, according to Gallup. Many people also oppose abortion in specific circumstances — because a fetus has Down syndrome, for example — even during the first trimester.

One sign that many Americans favor significant restrictions is in the Gallup data. Gallup uses slightly different wording from Pew, creating an option that allows people to say that abortion should be legal “in only a few” circumstances. And that is the most popular answer — with 35 percent of respondents giving it (in addition to the 20 percent who say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances).

NRLC couldn’t have put it much more accurately, once you note at the beginning that the reason people say they favor restrictions Roe doesn’t allow is because….they don’t know that Roe plowed through the abortion statutes of all 50 states, uprooting the most protective to the most permissive!

Second trimester abortions do not find a receptive public at all; obviously, the resistance grows even larger to abortions in the third trimester when babies are huge and very active. That is why the abortion industry focuses on relatively rare cases that tug on the heartstrings.

These polling numbers are also one major reason pro-abortionists are so fearful of laws that say the abortionist cannot take the life of an unborn child if he knows the reason is that there has been a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Ditto for laws that would prevent aborting children who are pain-capable—20 weeks or possibly much younger. They know the public does not want to hear that and do not approve of such abortions!

#3. Leonhardt writes about the stability of abortion polling and the absence of a “gender gap” before finishing  with “and a big class gap.” (Note especially the second paragraph.)

One of the strongest predictors of a person’s view on abortion is educational attainment … Working-class Americans often favor restrictions. Many religiously observant people also favor restrictions.

It’s yet another way in which the Democratic coalition is becoming tilted toward college graduates and the Republican coalition is going in the other direction.

As countless millions of Americans have said, echoing pro-life President Ronald Reagan, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” There is a massive realignment going on in the two parties, with Republicans faring increasingly better with working class Americans and minorities, especially Hispanics.

These constituencies are disproportionately pro-life by instinct and rearing. They may well have stayed with Democrats because of an affiliation on other issues. In my life I’ve known many, many such people.

But as the face of the Democrat Party becomes that of genuine radicals such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, these men and women are moving toward the party that supports Life!

There is a reason—actually dozens of reasons—pro-abortion Democrats are already talking in anxious terms about a disastrous 2022 off-year elections. 

Couldn’t happen to a nicer, more deserving bunch.