Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 20, 2009

STRONG SUPPORT FOR ROE RULING.... A couple of polls last week on abortion rights surprised much of the political world, especially an odd Gallup poll showing "pro-life" surging past "pro-choice" -- by a healthy margin -- for the first time in recent history.

The polls had a few flaws. Ron Chusid points out a new CNN poll that asked the abortion question in a more salient, and politically relevant, way.

The 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?

30% Yes, overturn
68% No, not overturn

Now, I realize the obvious danger of dismissing poll results I don't like as "outliers" and embracing poll results I do like as "reliable." That said, these new results from CNN certainly seem more in line with expectations and other Roe-related polls in recent years.

While it's interesting that "pro-life" numbers have improved, at least in some surveys, there are inherent ambiguities. Many, for example, might say they're personally "pro-life," but don't want to see the government mandate their beliefs on everyone else.

It's more important, then, to see that Americans strongly prefer to see the Roe precedent remain in place.

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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Obviously a bogus poll!!!

Everyone knows that women's health care decisions should be determined by old white men.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on May 20, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

The fetus huggers won't accept a poll that doesn't ask "do you think it's ok to murder babies?"

Posted by: JM on May 20, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think your point is well taken. If I was asked I would say I am pro-life, but I would also oppose overturning Roe v. Wade and if it was over turned I would be opposed to criminalizing abortion. There are some things as an old white man I am not qualified to decide and whether a woman carries to term is one of them.

I suspect the American people are far more nuanced on this issue than either fringe is willing to admit. I guess that is why it is a great issue for both sides to use to make money.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 20, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm very pro-life. And pro-choice. I'm anti-abortion. I hope that abortion remains safe and legal. None of these stances are contradictory unless you subscribe to a cartoonishly simple vision of morality.

All that poll showed is how poorly the "pro-life" label fits the agenda of the people who seek to own it. They would more accurately call themselves the "Outlaw Abortion" movement. Then poll numbers would more accurately measure their support.

Posted by: Jon on May 20, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

So, why don't Democrats in congress offer up a constitutional amendment that would permanently legalize abortion in the first three months? We could stop worrying about Roe then, couldn't we?


Posted by: MBunge on May 20, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

As Amy Walter of Hotline pointed out the other day on the Lehrer News Hour, ALL OF THE SHIFT in the previous poll was by REPUBLICANS:

"Right, well, as you pointed out in the opening, it is the first time since Gallup has asked this question that more people identified themselves as pro-life than pro-choice. It's 51 percent to 42 percent. If you go back to when they first started asking the question, 56 percent of people in 1995 identified themselves as pro-choice, 33 percent as pro-life.

I think what's really interesting, though, in digging through the Gallup poll is they note that the shift that they've seen is among Republicans. There is a 10-point difference in Republicans identifying as pro-life now that identified as pro-choice before.

And so I think some of this is more political than it is policy or personal, that if you have people who identify themselves as Republicans, in a year where a Republican pro-life president is in place versus a time when you have a Democratic pro-choice president in place, it's not that surprising then that their views on the issue are really based more on who's in the White House..."


Posted by: Joe Friday on May 20, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

So asking the question in a more salient and politically relevant way involves completely lying to respndents about what Roe held? Don't know many constitutional scholars who would agree that under Roe a woman has no constitutional right to an abortion after the first three months.

Posted by: Torture Fan on May 20, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Let's really mix up the issue by starting a group called "Pro-lifers for Choice".

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on May 20, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe DailyKos/Research2000 can run a poll asking " Would you rather have some government beaurocrat control your wife's heathcare options, or should those decisions be between her and her doctor?

Bet the results would be pretty heavily skewed toward the latter.

Posted by: Chris Johnson on May 20, 2009 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK
Steve: "Many, for example, might say they're personally "pro-life," but don't want to see the government mandate their beliefs on everyone else."

I don't "might" say it, I DO say it! I'm Roman Catholic, and I believe in the clear separation of state and church. We do not live in a theocracy, and I'd like to keep it that way, thank you very much.

From the Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 20, verses 20-26:

"Keeping a close watch on him, [the Pharisees] sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.
So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, "Show me a denarius (Roman coin). Whose portrait and inscription are on it?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 20, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Is that the same Rosen who did the hit piece on Sotomayor? Why would I trust his accolades any more than his condemnations? Why would you?

Posted by: hiram cross on May 20, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The use of the term pro-life taints the results. It does not define the positions in terms of policy - only pro-choice and anti-choice define the policies. Moreover, a person can be pro-life and pro-choice. And a person who is anti-choice and pro-death penalty has not right to call themselves pro-life. That word is useless for any purpose other than propaganda.

Posted by: RuthAlice on May 20, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Any fool could see that coming. It was not a coincidence that the poll was released a week prior to Obama's speech at Notre Dame, site of pro-life protests and much abortion controversy.

Seems to me that when poll results are published, the questions should be published as well. It's always about who creates the questions, how they are posed, and who the participants are. People believe what they want to believe and they will continually find polls that confirm their beliefs.

Posted by: Carol A on May 20, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

The fourth and fifth letter here are interesting. The fifth may even be from an actual participant in the Gallup poll.


Posted by: Suzii on May 20, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK



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