As Supreme Court Battle Begins, Roe v. Wade Support Down

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

As Supreme Court Battle Begins, Roe v. Wade Support Down Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 2, 2005

Washington, DC ( — As the first battle over a new seat on the Supreme Court begins for the first time in over a decade, polls show Americans are less supportive of Roe v. Wade than ever before. While describing the public as pro-life, polls show they are also looking for a high court that is more conservative than it is now.

With the departure of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the court loses one of its abortion advocates and the issue of abortion will dominate the debate about a replacement.

A February 2005 Harris poll showed support for the Roe v. Wade decision at its lowest point in 20 years.

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

Despite the biased poll question, 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’ incorrect 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.

A new June 28 poll conducted by the Gallup Organization for CNN and USA Today finds that largest segment of Americans, 41%, says that in the event of a vacancy, they would like Bush to nominate someone who will make the court more conservative than the current court. Another 30% would like him to make the court more liberal than it is, while 24% want him to keep the court as it is now.

"[T]his suggests that Americans would want Bush to nominate another conservative justice. That is because a total of 65% of Americans either want the court to remain as it is or become more conservative," Gallup wrote about their poll.

Meanwhile, an April 2005 poll conducted by Gallup finds that most Americans oppose most abortions. According to the poll, 59 percent of the American public say they oppose all or most abortions.

The Gallup survey found 20% of those polled believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Another 39 percent believe abortion should only be legal in a few circumstances.

While those situations are not spelled out, most polls show Americans favor abortions in the very limited cases of preventing the death of the mother or when the mother has been raped or is a victim of incest. Such cases of abortion constitute less than 5 percent of all abortions.

As a result, 59% of Americans oppose 95 percent or more of the 1.25 million abortions that take place annually in the United States.

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