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Pro-abortionist use push-polling to try to manipulate public opinion

by | Apr 20, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler

If I were in the pro-abortion camp, I would attempt just what pro-abortion scribe Tara Culp-Ressler wrote about today: figure out some way to frame abortion questions in a manner that would generate more of the kinds of responses I wanted.

This is called push-polling but to Culp-Ressler and Tresa Undem and a new liberal, pro-abortion outlet called “Vox,” it’s just allowing “room for the personal dimension of attitudes toward abortion access.”

It’s a long, detailed piece, so let me touch on just a few of Culp-Ressler’s major points.

The initial gambit is to convince readers that viewpoints on abortion –contrary to conventional wisdom– have not been “closely divided” or “stable” for decades. She uses a 2013 quote from Daniel Cox, the research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, to symbolize that (false) consensus: “The trend lines look about as flat as they can be.”

The “disservice to our understanding of public opinion” is in the questions major pollsters ask: “whether their [the public’s] beliefs align with one of the following four categories: Abortion should be legal in all cases; abortion should be legal in most cases; abortion should be illegal in most cases; or abortion should be illegal in all cases.”

Ms. Culp-Ressler’s adroitly avoid Gallup’s polling, which is the gold standard. Her four-questions miss the more nuanced questions Gallup asks. They ask respondents who say “abortion should be legal under certain circumstances” whether that meant 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.

Thanks to Gallup asking more precise follow-up questions, we know that a total of 58% of the American public believes that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (20%) or legal in only a few circumstances (38%).

But Culp-Ressler/Undem/Vox would instantly respond, “Andrusko, you’re missing the whole point.” Traditional polls are (in Undem’s words) “a ‘blunt object’ rather than a sophisticated measurement of people’s real beliefs.”

Matthew Yglesias, Vox editor

Matthew Yglesias, Vox editor

Of course “a sophisticated measurement of people’s real beliefs” is nothing of the sort. It is using focus groups to figure out what combination of language, graphics, and buzz words will convince people that when a state passes a number of pro-life measures, this is not a reflection of the state’s views but actions that will lead members of the focus group to respond “B.S.,” “ridiculous,” “tragic,” “ashamed of our country,” “offensive,” “crazy,” and “disturbing.”

One way to shift the way people respond is to ask a “series of questions” about what they believe “a woman’s abortion experience should look like.” That is, to quote Culp-Ressler,

If a woman wanted to have an abortion, would they want her experience to be “comfortable,” “supportive,” “without pressure,” “non-judgmental,” “affordable,” “informed by medically-accurate information,” or “without added burdens”?

So, “concede” that a woman is going to have an abortion and…well, actually, we don’t. We don’t agree that over a million unborn children should be crushed, pulverized, poisoned, or suctioned out each and every year. And we also don’t believe taxpayers should pay for their abortions–and neither does the wider public.

We do agree women contemplating abortions should be given medically-accurate information. Planned Parenthood tells them essentially nothing about the development of their unborn child (that would be to “add burdens”) and dismisses all the research pointing to abortion’s negative aftermath as not only inaccurate but “junk science.”

We also agree we should be supportive–but supportive of her when she is looking for help and the only “assistance” Planned Parenthood offers is the fastest way to abort her unborn child.

And as for pressure, in a crisis pregnancy situation, who is most often putting pressure on the woman? Not us. It’s her boyfriend or husband or family or friends. We are often the lone voice advocating for both mother and unborn child.

Last point, which is an amplification of an earlier point. Culp-Ressler/Undem/Vox argue the public doesn’t know the real status of abortion in the U.S.–and by that they mean passage of many protective laws. As noted above, they believe that if they put together just the right package, people will be indignant.

Strange as it sounds, we would agree with them that the public doesn’t know the “reality” of abortion. They don’t know that

  • Abortion is essential legal throughout pregnancy
  • There have been over 57 million abortions since 1973
  • In many states parents are not allowed to know their minor girls are about to have an abortion
  • By 20 weeks unborn child can feel pain, which is unimaginably horrific when a child is aborted
  • The way many unborn children are killed is that they bleed to death–after their arms and legs have been torn off.

And this is to name just a few of the many “realities” about abortion most people don’t know.

Referring to Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and Undem, Culp-Ressler concludes

They’re hoping that more accurate polling on the issue of abortion will disabuse Americans of the notion that the issue is static, and move us toward a more nuanced conversation that better reflects how people are actually grappling with questions related to abortion in their everyday lives.

Assuming the truth is given equal time, I couldn’t agree more.

Categories: Polling