Guest Column

This week’s mainstream media polls on Roe v. Wade continue to mislead

pro-life, New Jersey,

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

On Monday evening, a leaked draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito indicated that the Supreme Court might be about to overturn Roe v. Wade. Unsurprisingly, the media’s spin machine quickly went into overdrive. By Thursday, three media outlets — ABC News/The Washington Post, Politico, and Fox News — had all released polls which purportedly show strong public support for Roe v. Wade. The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 54% of Americans say Roe v. Wade “should be
upheld” and the Politico poll found that 50% believed Roe v. Wade “should not be overturned.” The Fox News poll found that 63% thought Roe v. Wade should stand.

Unfortunately, each of these three polls contain the same flaws of other media polls on the Roe v. Wade decision.

First, they fail to explain that Roe v. Wade effectively legalized abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy. This is a policy position that only a small percentage of Americans support.

Second, each of these three polls failed to explain what happens if Roe v. Wade is reversed. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, abortion is not banned. Instead, abortion policy is simply returned to the states.

READ: Majority of Americans don’t know what Roe v. Wade actually means

Indeed, a significant body of polling data shows that strong majorities of Americans approve of legal protections of preborn children that Roe v. Wade prevents. Since 1996, six Gallup polls all showed that at least 80% of Americans felt that abortion should be “generally illegal” during the last three months of pregnancy.

Similarly, since 1996 six Gallup polls found that 64% of Americans thought that abortion should be “generally illegal” during the second three months of pregnancy. Other polls have shown strong public support for 20-week abortion bans and other gestational age limits.

Overall, these recent media polls on Roe v. Wade provide little insight about U.S. attitudes toward legal abortion. The media is likely trying to influence the Supreme Court’s final decision by giving the misleading impression that most Americans support permissive policies on the issue of abortion. However, other surveys consistently show that many pro-life laws enjoy significant public support.

Indeed, pro-lifers should not be misled or discouraged by these media polls and instead should continue their efforts to build a culture of life.

Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.

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