What is the explanation for people not wishing to overturn Roe and yet wanting many limitations on abortion?

By Dave Andrusko

The fallout from the leaked first draft of a Supreme Court opinion on abortion has seen reporters plowing territory they should have tilled years ago. But, as they say, better late than never!

Reporters are discovering Pregnancy Help Centers, for example, or (more occasionally) how diverse our Movement has grown to be over the last 40 years. Also, writing as if the abortion issue has already been returned to the states (the end of Roe) allows reporters to see the genuinely nice people who make up the Right to Life Movement.

But something else crops up in many stories. How can the public be against overturning Roe, yet favorably disposed to many limitations on the right to abortion, the kind that are incompatible with Roe?

Andrew Romano explores that in “Polling on abortion helps explain uproar over Supreme Court leak on Roe v. Wade.”

He trots out a number of polls which—lacking context—show public opinion against reversing Roe. Romano does not explore why that is so and what people think  Roe legalized.

Of course, as pro-life activists we know that the public doesn’t have a clue how genuinely radical Roe (and Doe v. Bolton) were. Only of late, have most pollsters not framed the companion cases of Roe and Doe as “legalizing abortion in the first trimester” rather that abortion on demand throughout pregnancy.

But even if he misses the bigger picture, Romano does acknowledge that “ beneath the consensus — and the backlash — much of the country tends to see abortion in shades of gray rather than black and white.” He writes

A question from the April Yahoo News/YouGov poll illustrates this dynamic. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to states to make their own abortion laws, only 13% of Americans would prefer their own state to “ban all abortions”; just 28% would prefer that their state “keep all abortions legal.” Far more — a full 46% — would prefer something in between: either keeping most (but not all) abortions legal (22%) or banning most (but not all) abortions (24%).

But even that doesn’t convey the nuances of public opinion. Fox News ran a poll which we wrote about here

Victoria Balara tells us

Overall, 44% think abortion should be legal all (27%) or most of the time (17%), while a majority of 54% thinks it should be illegal all (11%) or most of the time (43%).  The “legal” number is a record low and it’s also the first time the portion saying “illegal” has been above 50% on a Fox News poll. 

When you ask very precise questions, you get very different responses:

Of the four positions, the largest share, 43%, thinks abortion should be illegal except in certain circumstances, such as rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life.

But regardless of which poll you use, many of the same people who do not want Roe overturned want strict limitations on abortion. The reason? “Americans have mixed feelings about the morality of the procedure, which means it matters to them when and why it’s being performed,” Romano writes.

Well….yes!

As the public learns the truth about how there are essentially no limitations  on abortion; that the pro-life movement is built on lovely helping unborn babies and their mothers; and because their opinions tell us they should be pro-life, the life-affirming numbers will grow larger and larger.