On Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the release of this year’s Knights of Columbus/Marist poll on Americans’ views on abortion. The poll was appropriately titled “Going Beyond Labels.” When the poll asked Americans to self-identify with the pro-life or pro-choice label, the latter had a slight edge – 51 percent compared to 44 percent who identify as pro-life. The Knights of Columbus mentioned this is fairly consistent.
But it is important to go beyond the labels, as the title suggests. This is because the poll’s findings this year, as has been consistent since the poll was first conducted in 2008, showed more of a consensus on abortion limits than the American public have been led to believe.
Planned Parenthood has already dropped their pro-choice label – a fitting choice, considering the nation’s largest abortion provider cannot be described in any other way but pro-abortion.
While Planned Parenthood wasn’t mentioned during the poll release except briefly during the Q&A, I could not help thinking of the organization when the Knights of Columbus mentioned how the pro-choice label does not translate to the idea that those who self-identify with that label believe abortion should be allowed for any reason throughout all of pregnancy.
That’s the view Planned Parenthood holds, and to them, it’s everyone else who are the extremists. In Planned Parenthood’s eyes, they are the ones fighting for women’s rights.
But the figures just don’t agree with Planned Parenthood.
81 percent of respondents chose one of the following options when it comes to the legality of abortion:
- Abortion should only be allowed during the first three months of a pregnancy: 24 percent
- Abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother: 32 percent
- Abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother: 13 percent
- Abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance: 12 percent
The poll results also note that:
66% of those who describe themselves as pro-choice say abortion should be allowed, at most, in the first trimester, in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, or never permitted.
And about Planned Parenthood claiming to fight for and represent women’s rights? Well, the numbers aren’t exactly on their side on that one either. The following options on the legality of abortion were also broken down by sex. Here are the numbers for women:
- Abortion should only be allowed during the first three months of a pregnancy: 25 percent
- Abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother: 31 percent
- Abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother: 12 percent
- Abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance: 14 percent
Women were among the most likely to answer that “abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance.” They were beaten out only by those who “practice a religion” at 18 percent, and “practicing Catholics” at 17 percent.
The poll also spoke of abortion restrictions in a more specific light. Those who self-identified as pro-choice had some answers that may disappoint the abortion lobby:
- 71 percent of pro-choicers say that abortion laws can protect both mother and child, which 77 percent of Americans overall agree with
- 51 percent of pro-choicers oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, which is a view held by 68 percent of Americans
- 62 percent of pro-choicers support a 20-week ban on abortion, which is a view similarly held by 61 percent of Americans
So don’t be fooled by labels or the extremists. There is more consensus on the abortion issue than we would be led to believe. Let’s hope that our laws soon reflect that.