According to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, the majority of Americans want Roe v. Wade either modified or overturned. Roe (and its partner decision, Doe v. Bolton) legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Unfortunately, in a secondary poll question, respondents were given misleading and confusing answer choices when asked about what point in pregnancy they would want abortion to be made illegal.
The poll, which was an online survey of 1,295 registered voters on May 29-30, found that while 46 percent think the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, 54 percent think the Supreme Court got it wrong with Roe v. Wade. Of that, 18 percent said Roe v. Wade should be completely overturned and 36 percent said it should be modified.
Despite the fact that more than half of those surveyed disagree with Roe v. Wade, The Hill reported the results as “nearly half of Americans say Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade.” This type of biased headline at first glance makes it appear as though most Americans support abortion-on-demand. This simply isn’t true.
Interesting way to report that the majority of Americans would like Roe modified or overturned https://t.co/7MPDmiplZ4
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) June 1, 2019
This new poll falls in line with a recent survey from Hill/HarrisX which found that 55 percent of Americans believe abortion should be limited to about six weeks gestation. 34 percent of them said “heartbeat bills” are “just right” while 21 percent think “heartbeat bills” aren’t restrictive enough.
Similarly, The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that Americans believe there should be restrictions on abortion. However, that’s where things get confusing with this poll.
To finish the statement: “In general, should women be able to have an abortion….” the possible answers were “Only in cases of rape and incest,” “Up until the 1st trimester,” “Up until the 2nd trimester,” “Up until the 3rd trimester,” and “Up until the birth of the child.” Together, these five options don’t add up.
There is no such thing as “up until the 1st trimester.” The first trimester begins on day one of pregnancy – at fertilization – or as doctors track it as beginning on the first day of a woman’s last period. However, if the pollsters meant to say “up until the 1st trimester ends” then they would have also meant to say “up until the 3rd trimester ends” but that doesn’t make sense since the fifth option is “up until the birth of the child.”
Because of this misleading wording, the results of this particular question are inaccurate. Was this a move to alter the survey to make it appear more abortion-friendly?
As it stands, the results, though unreliable, lean towards the majority of Americans wanting abortion heavily restricted. 41 percent said that abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape or incest. 29 percent said it should only be legal “up until the 1st trimester.” Those who marked “Up until the 3rd trimester” and “Up until the birth of the child” together accounted for just 14 percent of respondents.
As far as what Americans think the Supreme Court will actually do when it comes to Roe v. Wade, 49 percent said that they think the court will modify it. 31 percent indicated the court will affirm it and 20 percent said they think the court will overturn the ruling.
Despite The Hill’s attempt to mislead on the results of this poll, and the confusion surrounding Americans’ opinion on limiting abortion, what is clear is that most Americans disagree with Roe v. Wade. They want abortion restricted – and it seems the earlier, the better.
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