by Steven Ertelt
May 5, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new Harris Poll finds that backing for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortion is at its lowest point ever. Harris has been measuring public opinion on the infamous abortion case since the high court’s decision in 1973 and found that Americans are now split on the decision.
Previous Harris polls have found Americans supporting the decision, but a new Harris Poll finds that Roe vs. Wade is supported only by a slender 49 percent to 47 percent plurality.
In other words, support and opposition are almost equal because the difference is within the margin of error.
Previous Harris Polls found between 52 and 65 percent of all U.S. adults favoring Roe v. Wade. The results show pro-life educational and legislative efforts have paid dividends in reducing support for Roe.
Deirdre McQuade, a spokeswoman for the pro-life office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told LifeNews.com in a statement that the poll shows “public opinion has moved progressively away from supporting unqualified access to abortion.”
“This is a real sign of hope,” she said, “for both women and their unborn children.”
“We expect that Americans will continue to trend pro-life as they learn more about abortion and its impact on women, men, and society,” McQuade said.
The poll likely would have found even more opposition to the Roe case, but Harris erroneously told respondents that the Roe v. Wade decision only allowed abortions within the first three months of pregnancy. Combined with the companion Doe v. Bolton case, Roe allowed abortion throughout pregnancy for virtually any reason.
Looking at abortion views by political party, the Harris Poll found Democrats favor Roe by a 55-43 percent margin while Republicans oppose it by a 61-37 percent margin.
Meanwhile, while 49 percent back Roe, only 15 percent told Harris they support changing the laws to make it easier to have an abortion. Some 40 percent of those polled want to make it more difficult to obtain an abortion.
Also, the survey found 63 percent of those polled say they don’t think the Supreme Court will overturn Roe while 32 percent say they think that’s likely.
When asked about the recent South Dakota law "that would ban all abortions except to save the life of the mother," only a slight majority opposed it, 52-44 percent.
Most polls have found that a majority of Americans are pro-life, but they support rape and incest exceptions which the South Dakota law does not contain.
The Harris Poll also said abortion was "left to the woman and her doctor to decide" in the first three months, even though most women have never met the abortion practitioner prior to the abortion and do not get abortions from their regular physician.