Analysis

New poll shows support for heartbeat bill in Missouri

(National Review) A new poll from Saint Louis University and YouGov found that the pro-life heartbeat bill signed by Missouri Governor Mike Parsons enjoys strong support among Missouri voters.

The survey, which included questions about a range of policies, found that 56 percent of likely voters believe abortion should be prohibited after eight weeks’ gestation. The pro-life bill enjoyed broad support from a range of demographic groups, including majorities of white voters and black voters. The survey also found that women were more supportive of the heartbeat bill than men were. These statistics are good news for pro-lifers in Missouri.

This particular poll is notable for two reasons. First, the survey was conducted by two organizations unconnected to the pro-life movement. Second, the wording of the question about the bill was not particularly favorable to the pro-life position. It asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed that “the Missouri state government should prohibit abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy.”

Typically, respondents are more likely to support pro-life legislation if the survey question asks about “protecting the preborn” rather than about “prohibiting abortion.” The fact that the poll found 56 percent of Missouri voters support the recent heartbeat bill is especially noteworthy.

6 weeks from fertilization (8 weeks gestation/LMP)

READ: Abortion advocates smear Texas heartbeat bill as ‘diabolical’ ‘assault’

We shouldn’t read too much into the results of any one survey, but it is significant that this is the second recent poll showing strong support for heartbeat legislation among Missouri voters. A November 2019 poll conducted by Remington Research Group and Missouri Scout found that 61 percent of likely voters in the state supported House Bill 216 which “prohibits abortion at 8 weeks gestation.”

As I pointed out at NRO earlier this year, Missouri has an exceptionally strong pro-life culture, with numerous groups building a culture of life through education, service, and legislative activity. This might explain why strong pro-life legislation polls particularly well in the state.

In the last few years, about a dozen states have attempted to enact heartbeat bills, which protect preborn children anywhere from six to eight weeks’ gestation. Several surveys have indicated that this type of legislation polls well in conservative states. Two recent polls of Texas voters, for example, found that heartbeat bills enjoyed plurality support in the state.

Even though heartbeat bills have been struck down in court, they remain a wise pro-life strategy, especially because Supreme Court decisions are often influenced by public opinion. The fact that strong, protective pro-life laws enjoy support in conservative parts of the country sends a message to the Court as it prepares to consider the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion limit this fall.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at National Review and is reprinted here with permission.

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