by Steven Ertelt
March 7, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new national poll about the opinion of Americans on the issue of abortion continues a trend of telling respondents incorrect information about the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. Still, the poll showed support for the Roe v. Wade decision at its lowest point in 20 years.
A Harris Interactive poll conducted between February 8 and 13 asked respondents their opinion on the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalized unlimited abortion.
Surveyors erroneously told those polled that the landmark decision made "abortions up to three months of pregnancy legal."
In fact, Roe v. Wade made abortion legal for any reason at any time until "viability," the 22-24 week point in pregnancy where an unborn child, with medical assistance, can survive on her own outside of her mother’s womb.
After viability, the Supreme Court says abortions may be performed for any reason to protect a woman’s "health" — a term that has been so broadly defined as to include virtually any reason. Roughly 10 percent of all abortions, or 130,000 legal abortions, are performed annually in the United States after viability.
"This is a myth that the Supreme Court itself has often repudiated, and it is polling malpractice, which has inflated the claimed support for Roe v. Wade by as much as 25 points," National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson told LifeNews.com.
Despite the biased poll, Harris Interactive found that the support for the case that legalized abortion is at its lowest levels in 20 years.
Just 52 percent of Americans said they supported Roe, under Harris’ definition, and 47 percent opposed it. That’s down from a 57-41 margin in support of the abortion case in 1998. The 47 percent who now oppose it is the highest number to do so since 1985.
The Harris poll also found that the number of people describing themselves as "pro-life" is on the rise, while those who say they are "pro-choice" is declining.
Some 44 percent say they are "pro-life," and that number has consistently risen since 1992, when 35 percent affirmed that position. Those saying they are "pro-choice" have dropped 7 percent from 58 percent in 1992 to 51 percent today.
Previous polls have relied on the same erroneous information being given to respondents.
Recent polls with more accurate questions show strongly pro-life results.
A Wirthlin Worldwide poll commissioned just after the presidential elections, found 55 percent said they took a pro-life position and only 40 percent took one of three positions in favor of legal abortions.
Only 9 percent said abortion should always be legal at any time during pregnancy and just 25 percent agreed with the Harris/AP/Quinnipiac presentation of Roe, saying abortion should be legal for any reason within the first three months of pregnancy.
The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 8 and 13, 2005 among a nationwide cross section of 1,012 adults aged 18 and over. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.
Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.nrlc.org