I’ve been traveling and dealing with computer problems today, so there isn’t a lot of time for a lengthy Daily Journal. I did want to follow up on my anti-polling screed yesterday by providing a counterexample – an instance where a public opinion survey sheds useful insights on a complex issue.
You can hardly find a more complicated issue that abortion. With the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade coming up this week, and the usual constellation of forces lining up pro and con, it might surprise you to look at the results of this new Gallup poll on public sentiment about the decision, the issue, and its application in diverse circumstances.
Gallup asked a series of questions, with which it was able to identify a group of radical pro-abortion rights respondents (about a quarter of the sample) and a radical anti-abortion faction (about a fifth of the sample). The former group favors legalizing abortions in all circumstances, while the latter opposes it in any circumstance. So far, so good. Then Gallup assigned leaners to each group, which yielded a picture of American voters that is moderately pro-life.
Trust me, this means something. Read the piece. Basically, a rough consensus exists that second- and third-trimester abortions are almost always wrong, that abortions in the first few weeks after conception should probably be allowed, that abortion to save the life of the mother or in the wake of rape or incest should be allowed, that abortion to avoid embarrassment or inconvenience, or to determine the sex of one’s offspring, should be disallowed, that counseling pregnant women about other options and requiring parental consent for minors are reasonable policies, and so on.
Americans say they support Roe v. Wade on its face, yet they obviously disagree with its implications and applications in law and policy. In their cognitive dissonance, they are poorly served by the news media, who are horribly biased on this issue, as evidenced by their failure to cover major pro-life rallies this weekend in Raleigh and other cities.
Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation and publisher of Carolina Journal.