Supreme Court decision to hear abortion case sparks examination of what polling data tells us about the American people

By Dave Andrusko

As is always the case, when the Supreme Court agrees to hear an abortion case, as it did on Monday, there inevitably ensues analyses of what polling data tells us about abortion and the public. Fair enough. What’s interesting to me is that two prominent outlets—the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight—both offered level-headed pictures that capture how complicated views are on this hugely important issue.

On Thursday, we discussed the Times’s David Leonhardt’s portrait which ran under the headline, “How Abortion Views Are Different: With the Supreme Court set to hear a major abortion case, we look at the state of public opinion.”

Today we’ll discuss Alex Samuels’s “Most Americans Don’t Want Roe v. Wade Repealed. Many Also Support Restrictions On Abortion.” 

One of the common denominator is that while all surveys says a strong majority are against overturning Roe v. Wade, there is clearly support for many limitations. 

Leonhardt and Samuels do discuss how the public is overwhelmingly against second and third trimester abortions, which is very important. Unfortunately, while  Leonhardt agrees with Samuels —that “many are comfortable with some restrictions on abortion earlier than currently allowed under Roe”—neither talks about specific legislative proposals, such as a ban on aborting pain-capable children, which are supported by the American public.

For both of them, there is this head-scratcher. To quote Leonhardt 

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.

But it’s not “confounding” at all. Only a sliver of the population grasps that abortion is essentially unlimited until birth (the only real “deterrent” is that few abortionists are so soulless they will abort children in the last few months of pregnancy). So when Samuels writes

Per Gallup, 81 percent of respondents said abortion should be illegal in the last three months of pregnancy, while 65 percent said it should be illegal in the second trimester

it makes perfect sense. 

True, those are allowed under Roe but the Abortion Industry, and it legion of political and media supporters, have worked overtime to keep that a secret. When this reality is addressed, it is only to leave the completely untrue impression that such grisly abortions are performed almost entirely to save the mother’s life or because the baby would be born dying.

Here is one other (of many) important points that Samuels’ article highlights. Samuels quotes pro-abortion law professor Mary Ziegler: 

She added that concern over repealing Roe is less about wanting to uphold laws like the one going before the Supreme Court next term, and more about not wanting to open the door to abortion bans in the early stages of pregnancy. 

That is a gigantic admission and illustrative on many levels. Whatever Roe may have allowed, the public is, even now, “comfortable” with limiting abortions on a very serious scale. 

The pro-life position has always been that the impact of more widespread protective laws will be that the public will learn to “live without abortion,” a conclusion explained at great length by such groups as Feminists for Life.  And, as we’ve discussed literally hundreds of times, according to Gallup, a majority of the public already would either make all abortions illegal (20%) or says abortion should be legal “in only a few circumstances” (35%).

What those “few circumstances” are is, as far as I can tell, never spelled out, but likely as not they are cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life, a very, very small percentage of the abortions performed each year.

Hats off to Leonhardt and Samuels for solid contributions to enlightening the American public about abortion.