Analysis

New poll purports to show strong support for abortion, but does it?

abortion signs, texas right to life

A new poll commissioned by the Washington Post and ABC News claims to have confirmed that the majority of Americans support both abortion and Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, it claims to show that Americans want the Texas Heartbeat Act overturned. But is everything as clear-cut as it seems?

According to the poll, 60% of Americans want to see Roe upheld, while 65% say the Supreme Court should overturn the Texas Heartbeat Act. Under that law, abortions committed after a heartbeat can be detected — typically about six weeks gestation — are banned, and the abortionist responsible can be sued by a private citizen. Additionally, the poll claims 58% of Americans oppose restrictions that make it “more difficult for abortion clinics to operate.”

In 1973, the Supreme Court declared abortion to be a constitutional right in Roe v. Wade, a decision affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which further set viability as the benchmark for restricting abortion.

But not everyone is taking the poll at face value. Dr. Michael New, a Research Associate of Political Science and Social Research at The Catholic University of America, explained on Twitter that it can be misleading, and arguably shows that pro-lifers have gained ground, rather than lost it.

“This poll shows that 60 percent of respondents think the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade,” he wrote. “Of the three [ABC/Washington Post] polls taken in the past 13 months — this represents the lowest level of support for the Roe v. Wade decision. Historically, Roe v. Wade has polled better than 60%. [Sixteen] surveys taken by [Quinnipiac] found support for Roe v. Wade averaged 64%. [Five] recent [Kaiser Family Foundation] surveys found support for Roe v. Wade averaged 67%. However, this [ABC/Washington Post] poll found only 60% support.”

READ: Recent polling suggests that public support for abortion hasn’t increased since Texas Heartbeat Act

He also warned that pro-life advocates should not be disheartened by the responses towards the Texas Heartbeat Act.

“Remember that during the past month, the enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Bill has generated a great deal of media coverage,” he continued. “The mainstream media has worked overtime to provide negative coverage of this bill and cast pro-life efforts in a negative light. So pro-lifers, take heart. Despite the media’s best efforts, public attitudes toward abortion have remained stable during the past few weeks.”

New also recently pointed out that a Rasmussen poll asked respondents if “abortion laws should be determined by the state governments or the federal government.” Essentially, this is the crux of Roe v. Wade without actually naming it — and a plurality chose state governments, in a 46 to 34 margin.

Past polls have also found that most Americans do not actually understand the scope of Roe v. Wade (which casts doubt on the accuracy of polling that doesn’t explain the court decision) and repeatedly found that Americans want abortion to be heavily restricted. Typically, Americans would limit it to the first trimester, and support laws requiring parental consent, waiting periods, and informed consent. Only seven percent (7%) of Americans support taxpayer-funded abortion on demand with no restrictions.

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