[guest post by Dana]
Chuck Schumer believes that forcing a vote on extreme abortion legislation-a right to abortion in all 50 states through the ninth month of pregnancy-will be a good thing for Democrats:
The U.S. Senate will vote on legislation to codify abortion rights into law on Wednesday in reaction to the leaked draft decision indicating the Supreme Court is poised to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.
“Every American will see how every senator stands,” Schumer said during a news conference with state leaders in New York. Republicans “can’t duck it anymore. Republicans have tried to duck it.”
Schumer called the draft decision an “abomination,” noting that a majority of Americans want to preserve the right to have an abortion and women’s health care.
Interestingly, Americans, including Democrats and Republicans, are not settled on the “through the ninth month,” nor on a number of issues surrounding abortion. Recently, a Pew Research poll (done before the leak of the Supreme Court draft) revealed the conflict Americans have about abortion and limits therein. Despite the effort of politicians, abortion is more complicated for Americans than the sort of through-the-ninth-month-or-nothing demand of Schumer and Democrats. While they play politics with the issue, I’m guessing that most people arrive at their decision regarding abortion by actually wrestling with the question of when life begins rather than willfully ignoring it. And there are other issues that demand a full examination and struggle of conscience by the individual: Do we want rape and incest victims to be forced to carry a resulting pregnancy to term? Given that it has been recognized that babies can feel pain inside the womb certainly during the middle and end stages of pregnancy, should that science be ignored? Also, shouldn’t it make a compelling difference on whether to abort when we know that babies can survive outside of the womb at 24 weeks?
Nearly one-in-five U.S. adults (19%) say that abortion should be legal in all cases, with no exceptions. Fewer (8%) say abortion should be illegal in every case, without exception. By contrast, 71% either say it should be mostly legal or mostly illegal, or say there are exceptions to their blanket support for, or opposition to, legal abortion.
As in the past, more Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances (61%) than illegal in all or most circumstances (37%). But in many ways, the public’s attitudes are contingent upon such circumstances as when an abortion takes place during a woman’s pregnancy, whether the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life and whether a baby would have severe health problems.
There is evidence that many people are cross-pressured on this issue. For example, more than half of Americans who generally support abortion rights – by saying it should be legal in “most” or “all” cases – also say the timing of an abortion (i.e., how far along the pregnancy is) should be a factor in determining its legality (56%).
At the same time, the survey shows that large numbers of Americans favor certain restrictions on access to abortions. For example, seven-in-ten say doctors should be required to notify a parent or legal guardian of minors seeking abortions. And most of those who say abortion should be legal in some cases and illegal in others say that how long a woman has been pregnant should be a factor in determining whether abortion is legal or illegal (56% among all U.S. adults).
The survey data shows that as pregnancy progresses, opposition to legal abortion grows and support for legal abortion declines…
At 14 weeks, the share saying abortion should be legal declines to 34%, while 27% say illegal and 22% say “it depends.”
When asked about the legality of abortion at 24 weeks of pregnancy (described as a point when a healthy fetus could survive outside the woman’s body, with medical attention), Americans are about twice as likely to say abortion should be illegal as to say it should be legal at this time point (43% vs. 22%), with 18% saying “it depends.”
However, in a follow-up question, 44% of those who initially say abortion should be illegal at this late stage go on to say that, in cases where the woman’s life is threatened or the baby will be born with severe disabilities, abortion should be legal at 24 weeks. An additional 48% answer the follow-up question by saying “it depends,” and 7% reiterate that abortion should be illegal at this stage of pregnancy even if the woman’s life is in danger or the baby faces severe disabilities.
A couple of things. First, given that Schumer wants to establish a right to abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy, how is that an accurate representation of Americans’ view of abortion? Clearly, the stage of pregnancy matters when discussing legal abortion. The farther along with the pregnancy, the less support for an abortion. But then again, we’ve always known that “safe, legal, and rare” was little more than a manipulative attempt to appease those genuinely conflicted about abortion.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, it’s good to have on record the current President of the United States (and de facto leader of the Democratic Party) say the quiet part out loud:
“I mean, so the idea that we’re going to make a judgment that is going to say no one can make a judgment to choose to abort a child based upon a decision by the Supreme Courts, I think goes way overboard.”