The Jury Talks Back

11/27/2008

The Problem with Abortion Polls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 12:54 pm


Many abortion polls are uninformative. Either they are biased (e.g. “The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe versus Wade decision, or not?“) by misstating the question, or they are so limited as to be useless (“In general, do you favor permitting a woman who wants one to have an abortion in all circumstances, some circumstances or no circumstances?“). Few ask detailed questions, and the devil, as usual, is in the details.

Here is one of the few polls to actually break down the issue on clear boundaries (from PollingReport.com).
(CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. Jan. 10-12, 2003. N=1,002 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3)

Now I am going to read some specific situations under which an abortion might be considered. For each one, please say whether you think abortion should be legal in that situation, or illegal. How about [see below]?”

Legal
%

Illegal
%

Depends
%

Unsure
%

“When the woman’s life is endangered”

85

11

2

2

“When the woman’s physical health is endangered”

77

17

4

2

“When the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest”

76

19

2

3

“When the woman’s mental health is endangered”

63

32

3

2

“When there is evidence that the baby may be physically impaired”

56

37

4

3

“When there is evidence that the baby may be mentally impaired”

55

39

3

3

“When the woman or family cannot afford to raise the child”

35

61

2

2

“Thinking more generally: Do you think abortion should generally be legal or generally illegal during each of the following stages of pregnancy? How about [see below]?”

Legal
%

Illegal
%

Depends
%

Unsure
%

“In the first three months of pregnancy”

66

29

3

2

“In the second three months of pregnancy”

25

68

4

3

“In the last three months of pregnancy”

10

84

4

2

“Next, do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals. How about [see below]?”

Favor
%

Oppose
%

Unsure
%

“A law requiring doctors to inform patients about alternatives to abortion before performing the procedure”

88

11

1

“A law requiring women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours before having the procedure done”

78

19

3

“A law which would make it illegal to perform a specific abortion procedure conducted in the last six months of pregnancy known as a ‘partial-birth abortion,’ except in cases necessary to save the life of the mother”

70

25

5

“As you may know, in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a landmark decision on abortion known as Roe versus Wade. Do you think that decision was a good thing or a bad thing for the country?” Options were rotated

Good Thing
%

Bad Thing
%

Unsure
%

53

30

17

The public clearly has a bright-line test for legality, which is quite different than the judge-imposed one.

  • Overwhelmingly the public believes that abortion should be available in the first trimester and only then
  • Believes that abortions should be discouraged and that alternatives should be offered.
  • Believes in waiting periods.
  • Disapproves of “partial-birth” abortions.
  • Disapproves of abortions for economic reasons
  • Believes that the life and health of the mother is more important than that of the fetus.
  • Has an unclear understanding of what Roe v Wade did, since they strongly disagree with many particulars, and agree with the ruling.

Yet the question is almost always “Are you pro-choice or pro-life?” The majority is neither and both.

An Interesting Parallel (That I’m Sure Hillary Clinton Wouldn’t Appreciate)…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leviticus @ 8:12 am

First of all: hello, everyone.  It’s been a while.

This will be a brief post, because I need to get up and go help out with the Thanksgiving preparations, but it’s a post better suited to a discussion between you all than an oration from me to you anyway.

I was thinking about Obama’s selection of Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State (unofficial as that selection may be) – mulling over Clinton’s qualifications for such a post, lamenting the fact that Obama hadn’t selected New Mexico’s Prodigal Son (who is extremely well-qualified, in my opinion), and (finally) thinking how strange it was for Obama to select as his Secretary of State a politician with whom he butted heads over the most important foreign policy issue of our time – the war in Iraq.

Clinton refused to renounce her initial support for that war – she stuck to the “Bush is an evil genius who tricked me” line (which is funny, considering how many people opposed the war in spite of Bush’s evil ingenuity, but whatever).  The point is, that was the deal-breaker for a lot of people when it came to voting for Hillary Clinton – myself included (although there were other reasons as well).

And this is to be the foreign policy face of an Obama administration?

I was immediately reminded of another politician who chose a popular female politician who didn’t agree with him on some core issues as his right-hand…person: John McCain. And that reignited an internal debate over the following question (which had lain dormant since the selection of Sarah Palin):

Where do you draw the line between a pandering (but doubtlessly effective) political selection and a prudent (but boring) policy selection (that is, someone whose policies are in direct alignment with your own on the issue relevant to their position)?  Where does it become dangerous to play politics in selecting your cabinet (or your vice-president, for that matter, assuming the VP isn’t a member of the cabinet, which may or may not be the case)?


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