Friday, May 15, 2009

Majority of Americans Identify as "Pro-Life"

I debated "social scientist" Scott Lemieux the other day, after he suggested that public opinion data indicate strong majority support for Roe v. Wade. Lemieux's key piece of evidence? A five year-old blog post with dead links.

Now, while Lemieux's specifically discussing support for Roe v. Wade, the underlying question is public support for abortion, and I called him on it in the comments. He in turn sent me to the abortion page at Polling Report, which frankly, didn't help his case, as I suggested in another comment:

CNN/Opinion Research April 23-26 shows declining suppport for "pro-choice" position, and 49 percent is bare plurality within the margin of error (i.e., statistically insignificant). NBC News/WSJ September 6-8, 2008, just 25 percent should always be legal. Both the Washington Post and Pew show declining support for abortion "in all cases."

Geez, Scott, that's some ace blogging there, buddy! I can see why you cited a 5 year-old blog post with dead links, ROFLMFAO!
This discussion provides an interesting and pertinent background to the new Gallup survey out today on the declining support for abortion, "More Americans “Pro-Life” Than “Pro-Choice” for First Time."

Just 42 percent identify as "pro-choice" at the discussion, which is precisely in line with the declining trends in the "pro-choice" side found at
Polling Report. Gallup provides an analysis of the trends:

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be "pro-choice" slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.
The partisan implications are clear: Barack Obama is seriously alienating the roughly 20 percent of voters at the political center who the Democrats need to maintain a viable electoral coalition. And always remember: "Republicans did not lose the 2008 election because they were out of step ideologically with average Americans."

And because of this, hardline leftists are already spinning
Gallup's results as unrepresentative. Dana Goldstein, at the American Prospect, argues that "these latest number are, quite likely, outliers."

And then, coincidentally, Scott Lemieux follows up at American Prospect as well, "
More on Abortion and Public Opinion":

As Dana says, the direction of public opinion has been solidly pro-choice, although marginal regulations on abortion tend (regrettably) to be very popular. So barring a much more sustained trend, it is indeed pretty safe to assume that the latest Pew and Gallup surveys are outliers ....

One should be particularly wary about poll questions, like the Gallup survey, that ask people to choose between abortion being legal in "most" or "a few" circumstances. Leaving aside the vagueness, the
obvious problem is that for the most part such a question is irrelevant to legislative enactments ....

Speaking of concrete questions, for some reason polling firms often don't ask about Roe v. Wade. When
they do, however, note that there are always substantial majorities in favor of upholding it.
On support for Roe, Lemieux again links to the same generic Polling Report page as if that provides some kind of powerful support for his argument.

The problem, first, for Lemieux is that
Gallup's survey questions are in fact not "vague." As readers can see from the graph above, the question simply asks people of they consider themselves to be "pro-choice" or "pro-life." And only 4 in 10 support the "pro-choice" position. Indeed, if you check the survey, the choices for various question-items are clear and unambiguous. The results show steadily declining support for abortion in America. The poll asks, for example, should abortion be legal under any circumstances; legal under certain circumtances; or illegal under all circumstances:

In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.
There's nothing "vague" about this at all.

Pew released a poll on abortion just two weeks ago, asking whether abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances or illegal in all or most circumstances. Just 46 percent indicated that abortion should be legal in "all/most" circumstances, and what's especially interesting is the steady trend indicated at the questionnaire page in the declining support for abortion over roughly the last 15 years.

It's clear that support for abortion in the U.S. is on the decline. Actually, the election of Democrat Barack Obama to the White House has accelerated the drop off in support. Lemieux, second, cites no recent data to indicate continuing public support for Roe v. Wade. But given the more generalized results from a variety of recent surveys, it's clear that Roe v. Wade is barely hanging on for dear life (or "dear death," be that as it may).

See also Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money, "Abortion and Public Opinion."


Side Note: There's a lot of discussion of torture in the news, but for some real tortured pro-death logic, be sure to check the comment thread at Lemieux's post at Lawyers, Guns and Money I cited above. For example, right here:

I think it would better suit the arguments of the pro-choice movement to define fetuses as humans without consciousness. For instance, arguments are frequently made that those in a vegetative state can justifiably be killed (removed from life support) since they have no hope of regaining consciousness or otherwise enjoying life as most of us experience it. In this instance, human life is terminated on pragmatic grounds--pragmatic in terms of the patient's life and in terms of use of resources.

What this leads to in the context of abortion is a removal of the argument over whether a fetus is or is not human and replaces it with a discussion over the merits of allowing every fetus to come to term. Why is this a good thing? Well, first, it moves the debate towards the real problems solved by legalized abortion: overpoplulation, childhood poverty and/or neglect, abandonment, infanticide, botched non-medical abortions, threats to the health of mothers, etc. These problems are not minor and deserve to be the focus of the abortion debate.
And these kind of suggestions are extremely common on the left. The politics of abortion isn't really about "choice." It's about death. It's no suprise, then, that Americans are slowly but surely turning away from such gruesome far left-wing anti-life nihilism.


PrivatePigg said...

I suspect there are a group of Americans that identify with Democrats and "pro-choice" because Democrats disingenuously say they are "against" abortion, and want to reduce it, but need it legal "for those rare occasions." People can identify with that. Let's reduce abortions, but maybe keep them legal for when they are truly necessary. Of course, when liberals like Obama actually implement their policies, indiscriminately funding overseas abortions with tax dollars, removing protections from doctors who refuse to perform abortions, etc., people see that it is no longer about "reducing abortions" but keeping them legal "just in case," but rather, in fact, increasing abortions for those very reasons listed: overpopulation, easing poverty, etc.

Like someone wise said, every 15-20 years Democrats get some power, they always over-reach, and we recognize, again, that the country is a center-right one.

Ignore the liberal media's articles that keep telling us conservatism is dead, etc. We have healthy debate inside the GOP party right now and a stronger, back-to-fundamentals core will emerge. We'll be fine. Let Obama over-reach. Give him everything he wants.

People come around.

AmPowerBlog said...

"Like someone wise said, every 15-20 years Democrats get some power, they always over-reach, and we recognize, again, that the country is a center-right one."

Hey, wasn't that me!!

Great comments, Private!

dave in boca said...

Ignore the liberal media's articles that keep telling us conservatism is dead, etc. We have healthy debate inside the GOP party right now and a stronger, back-to-fundamentals core will emerge. We'll be fine.Yes, my take on the constant Dem JournoList cadres' lockstep groupthink on "conservatism is dead" lies in their wish being father to their thought, and more directly, they're whistling past the graveyard whence Nixon and Reagan resurrected conservatism after the same libtard elites in the sixties and seventies pronounced Repubs and conservatives sooo retro and a thing of the past.

According to a book on the next generation after Gen-X called Millenials, Gen Y is going to be much more conservative.

Perhaps its the cyclical nature of the Dems' reach always exceeding their grasp. Or the simpler explanation of the bankruptcy of their "ideas" which generally have a utopian cast while their methods are stained with dirty blunt instruments.

I happen to think it's astrological, but Nancy R. & myself are probably a minority on that score!!

Amy Proctor said...

This is great news. For too long liberals have claimed the moral high ground on this issue based on the fact that supposedly most Americans were pro-choice.

Now we see that Obama policy and his radical pro-abortion agenda are turning Americans off, even scaring some into rethinking their positions and becoming pro-life.

Thanks, Obama!

cracker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cracker said...

I think PP has a point..mostly

I know individuals who are Pro-life....and identify accordingly but, believe whole heartedly that Roe v Wade should always stand.

The reasoning is that criminalizing abortion is a fools game.(in their opinion)

The objective of decency is to have Abortion clinics go out of business...due to lack of it.

Providing a loving home, providing education and discipline and value to the act of a loving relationship. choosing to be apart of a young persons life is the key. Espousing childbirth as a gift and a joy. Providing support for ignorant, disposessed and abused young mothers to be. Elevating the value of life by rejecting killing,... the methods used to kill, abortions, batons, bullets, bombs are irrelevant. In fact a focus on the method distracts one from the reason.

So, it MAY be a rouse to believe that just because one identifies as "Pro-life" is to connect it with a citizen interested in the Reversal of R v W or a dislike of the new admins expansion of access to abortion.


Dumber for having visited here... said...

I thought that your comments at LGM were sufficient to capture the essence of your unique combination of limited reading skills and self-assured ad hominem, but you have to visit here to get a full understanding of the width and breadth of your douchebaggery.

Well done, sir!