NRL News

What we can learn from “Trends in Public Attitudes toward Abortion”

by | Jul 11, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

NRLC in Austin, Texas (left to right) Melissa Zierke, Evan Marist, James Balch, Andrew Bair, and Christine Rouselle.

NRLC in Austin, Texas
(left to right) Melissa Zierke, Evan Marist, James Balch, Andrew Bair, and Christine Rouselle.

Presumably the reason for the story on abortion and public opinion written by the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty was the release of the latest data from the National Opinion Research Center. Her story is worth analyzing particularly because as we are in the midst of a proliferation of pro-life proposals and, like most reporters, she misreads what is really taking place.

Okay, we know that most people are in the middle on abortion, although the way NORC rolls out its data greatly exaggerates those who supposedly agree women can have an abortion “for any reason” and minimizes the number who oppose all abortion. As such it necessarily pays short shrift to a reality that you can get from Gallup: the truth that a majority of the population opposes the reasons for which almost all abortions are performed.

So do we learn from the analysis provided by NORC (“Trends in Public Attitudes toward Abortion”) and Tumulty’s story?

First—and in many ways most revealing–guess which age group is the second most pro-life (after those over 65)? The youngest—those under 35! As has explained many times, young people’s opinion may have become more “liberal” on other social issues but not abortion. That speaks volumes.

Second, as we have emphasized for decades, although abortion is pegged as a “woman’s issue,” men favor abortion slightly more than women do.

Third, while there remains strong support for so-called “hard case” abortions, there is not a majority “when an abortion is sought because the woman believes she is too poor to have more children (a situation in which 45 percent say they approve of an abortion) or doesn’t want to marry the father (42 percent),” Tumulty reports.

Four, Tumulty observes that support for abortion radically (my word) diminishes in the second and third trimester. She cites the latest Gallup poll which found “support dropped to 27 percent in the second trimester and to 14 percent in the third.”

This is important in and of itself, but especially in the context of Tumulty’s basic narrative: that Texas is in the process of passing “one of the most restrictive and closely watched abortion measures in the country.” How so?

A key component of HB2, now being debated in the Texas Senate, is a ban on abortions on children capable of feeling pain — after 20 weeks. Both Gallup and a Texas newspaper’s poll show great support for a ban on abortions pass 20 weeks—62% in Texas.

Likewise, another key ingredient is requiring abortions in Texas to be performed at an ambulatory surgical center and that the abortionist have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, in case there are complications. Tumulty says of ambulatory surgical center requirement that it is “More difficult to measure is the political fallout.” So far pro-lifers are doing an excellent job—in spite of media hostility—of explaining that this is a pro-woman requirement , just as is requiring the abortionist to administer chemical abortifacients in person, rather than via videoconferencing where he is never in the same room with the mother.

Near the end Tumulty argues that the key to victory is whether “the focus is on the woman” or whether it “centers on the fetus or the details of the procedure itself.” This is half-right, sort of.

The ultimate advantage pro-lifers have (beyond the instinctual resistance most people have to abortion) is that we do not look in either/or terms but in both/and terms. We want win-win solutions, while pro-abortionists’ “solution” is death.

What happens when conversation “center on the “fetus”? It means that there is recognition that there is a second life involved, a wholly innocent life—and that moral and ethical considerations cannot be made in a vacuum.

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Likewise, what happens when “details of the procedure itself” get discussed? For starters, we know that what happens is horrific—a bloody and violent result. And where talk about the baby and the “procedure” intersects, we start to learn that abortions—lots of abortions, not a handful—happen in the second and third trimester when it is impossible to miss that the baby “looks” like a baby. And that the techniques are unbelievably violent. And that at some point—no later than 20 weeks—when the baby is torn apart she will experience pain nothing this side of a prison of war camp could compare to.

Tumulty can drop hints everywhere that in being aggressive in proposing pro-life laws (she quotes the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute as concluding that “In the first six months of this year alone, legislatures in 17 states placed 43 new restrictions on the procedure”) is a loser for pro-lifers. Not so.

What IS a losing position is to argue that it is perfectly acceptable to pulverize pain capable unborn child and take at least a few steps forward to assure that we have no more Kermit Gosnells.

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Categories: Polling