by Steven Ertelt
November 23, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new national poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS News shows that Americans say they expected President Bush to appoint Supreme Court judges who oppose abortion. The poll also found opposition to assisted suicide increasing.
Some 64 percent of those polled said they thought Bush would appoint pro-life judges who favor making abortion illegal. Only 17 percent said they expected Bush to appoint judges who back abortion.
Those numbers reflect the increasing focus on the Supreme Court thanks to the battle over Arlen Specter chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s declining health.
Back in January 2003 just 51 percent of Americans thought Bush would name a new Supreme Court justice who opposed abortion.
The survey also examined the attitudes of the general public on the issue of abortion itself.
Some 34 percent of Americans said abortion should generally be available, 44 percent said abortion should be available but under stricter limits, and 21 percent indicated they thought abortion should not be permitted.
This kind of question has often been condemned as misleading and an inaccurate gauge of how people view abortion.
While a plurality say abortion should be available but more strictly limited, the limits mentioned in the polling question are undefined.
When a more accurate question is asked, that focuses on exactly when abortion should be legal, polls show a clear majority of Americans are pro-life and oppose all or most abortions.
A Wirthlin Worldwide post-election poll found that, when thinking about their own position on abortion, 55 percent said they took a pro-life position and only 40 percent took one of three positions in favor of legal abortions.
Among the pro-life respondents, 10 percent said abortion should never be legal, 16 percent said it should be legal only in the very rare instance where the life of the mother is in danger, and 29 percent said all abortions should be illegal except those rare instances of protecting the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.
Looking at the pro-abortion people surveyed, 25 percent say abortion should be legal for any reason within the first three months of pregnancy, only 6 percent said abortion should be legal for any reason within the first six months, and just 9 percent said abortion should always be legal at any time during pregnancy.
The CBS-New York Times survey also looked at the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Respondents were asked: "If a person has a disease that will ultimately destroy their mind or body and they want to take their own life, should a doctor be allowed to assist the person in taking their own life, or not?"
Some 46 percent of those polled said yes and 45 percent said no to assisted suicide.
However, the numbers indicate the level of support for the grisly practice is dropping.
In 1993, 58 percent said yes to the question and 52 percent backed assisted suicide when asked the question in a similar 1998 poll. The level of opposition to assisted suicide has risen with only 36 percent saying no in 1993 and 37 percent opposing it in 1998.
The Times/CBS News poll was taken from Thursday through Sunday. The nationwide telephone poll of 855 adults has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.