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Conventional wisdom on abortion takes it on the chin

by | Aug 2, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

WAPObuildingreNRL News Today has written a bushel-full of stories on various polls that show the same result: the public is wide-open to banning abortion at 20 weeks, a time by which unborn babies can experience pain.

But today’s new Quinnipiac poll, because it confirms several other recent polls, has even convinced the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake the tired-old “war on women” narrative peddled by pro-abortion Democrats for the past couple of years is wearing thin around the edges.

The headline is catchy and accurate: “Guess who likes the GOP’s 20-week abortion ban? Women.” To which Blake could have added men, young people, Hispanics, Independents, and even a plurality of Democrats! (See “New Quinnipiac University poll shows strong majorities to limit abortion.”)

But the larger consideration woven into Blake’s piece is to acknowledge what you and I have always known: the conventional wisdom that women are more “supportive” of “abortion rights” is a myth.

On the four most recent polls that ask people to choose between abortions up to 20 weeks and abortions up to 24 weeks, all show more support for the former than the latter and all reveal that women support the lower figure more than men do.

Blake offers a key observation which rarely gets spelled out in any story on abortion:

“It’s also clear that overall support for abortion rights is not a good proxy for opposition to abortion restrictions. People who think abortion should be legal, in many cases, are quite open to new restrictions.”

Well, yes, and for two reasons. First, unnuanced, more general questions practically beg for a “pro-choice” answer. The more specific the question, the larger the percentage of people (women and men alike) take the pro-life position.

That’s best demonstrated when you ask a follow-up question of the category who respond that abortion should be legal only “under certain circumstances.” Do they mean legal in most circumstances or in only a few circumstances. “The responses break nearly 3-1 in favor of the more restrictive policy,” according to Gallup’s Lydia Saad.

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Second, when questions about “new restrictions” are asked, it often has the effect of passing along new knowledge. That, for example, abortion clinics are often unregulated altogether or are regulated in name only shocks people.

Take a minute and read Blake’s story at washingtonpost.com

Categories: Polling