By Dave Andrusko
Tip of the cap to Kimberly Ross. Writing in Tuesday’s Washington Examiner, she referenced a piece that ran in Slate magazine just after then presidential candidate Joe Biden flip-flopped, from decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment to strident opposition, in June 2019.
The title of William Saletan’s analysis is “Abortion Funding Isn’t As Popular As Democrats Think.” Nothing has changed in the ensuring two years that changes the enduring truth that he carefully documented. In fact more recently polling shows even greater support for the life-affirming Hyde Amendment.
Nonetheless, pro-abortion Democrat leaders, beginning with Biden-Harris, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, have persuaded themselves that they know better than what the results of 40 years of polling uniformly document: the public overwhelmingly does not want to pay for abortion.
But pro-abortion Congressional Democrats and the Biden-Harris administration plow ahead anyway. And to make matters worse, they intend to spend US dollars not only at home but abroad as well.
As the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues wrote, “Democrat Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed two spending bills that remove decades-old bipartisan agreements preventing the use of federal funds for abortion on demand in the U.S. and around the world.”
Let’s examine Saletan’s very thoughtful piece which was subtitled, “Recent polls debunk much of what progressives believe.” It’s particularly telling because Slate is strongly pro-Democrat and pro-abortion.
He begins with the words of a chorus of Democrats announcing in 2019 that there is “an emerging consensus within the Democratic Party” that Hyde must go. In the words of Sen. Bernie Sanders, “There is #NoMiddleGround on women’s rights,” to which Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand added, “ I don’t think there is room in our party for a Democratic candidate who does not support women’s full reproductive freedom.”
But what do the opinion polls—as opposed to pro-abortion politicians—say?
“In every poll, a plurality of Americans opposes public funding of abortions,” Saletan writes. “In every poll but one, that plurality is a majority. The questions vary, but the result is the same. Respondents support ‘banning federal funding for abortion’ except in rape cases or to save the woman’s life.”
Since Saletan wrote his article in June 2019, there have been two additional polls that showed even stronger support for the Hyde Amendment.
The first is a November 2020 McLaughlin poll showed that 64.6% oppose tax funding of abortion including 49% of Democrats and 69% of Independents. Note that three times as many respondents strongly opposed federal funding of abortion as strongly supported funding.
How does support/opposition break down along gender lines? According to Saletan
To many advocates of abortion rights, covering the cost of an abortion like any other medical procedure is a matter of respecting women. But in surveys, women are no more likely than men to support that policy. The sexes differ on other reproductive policy questions, but not on abortion funding.
This reinforces another enduring truth about abortion. While people’s position on abortion does tend to track along their self-identified political position (Republicans are much more supportive of the Hyde Amendment than Democrats), that is not the case with women and men.
But what cannot be overlooked is that many Independents—a whopping 65% in a 2021 Marist poll—and almost a third (31%) of Democrats— also oppose using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion.
In addition, Saletan cites a poll by YouGov that found an even greater number of Democrats–55%–who “supported prohibiting federal funding of abortions.” That same poll found that “66 percent of respondents said ‘the decision on abortion should be made by a woman and her doctor.’”
Saletan’s spot-on conclusion? “A lot of people seem to think that the right to choose abortion is compatible with the right not to pay for other people’s abortions.”