by Steven Ertelt
May 16, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — They say that the wording of a poll can lead to any desired result and previous media polls on whether Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision have been biased. They’ve said the case allowed abortions only in the first trimester of pregnancy.
But when the breadth of the decision is explained — that it and a companion case led to virtually unlimited abortions — a new survey shows that Americans are more likely to favor overturning it.
The Judicial Confirmation Network and the Ethics and Public Policy Center were curious to find out what the public thinks about Roe if educated about the facts of the case.
They commissioned the highly respected national public-affairs research firm Ayres, McHenry & Associates to conduct a national survey of registered voters on abortion issues.
The survey first asked Americans a generic question about whether they wanted Roe overturned and found the public opposes that by a 55 to 34 percent margin.
The polling firm then told respondents that Roe prohibits states from limiting abortion during the first six months of pregnancy and that, if Roe is overturned, states could make abortion policies that would permit abortion for some reasons and bar it for others.
The percentage changes to just 48 to 43 against overturning Roe — almost within the margin of error — when they get more information about what it does and doesn’t do. It represents a huge shift of 16 percentage points in terms of the public attitude on the case.
In a joint statement, the heads of the groups sponsoring the poll say the results mean that a prolonged national education campaign on Roe could dramatically shift public opinion on it.
"In the face of more than three decades of media misrepresentation about what Roe means and what overturning it would mean, this swing is very striking," they said. "Compared to the brief comments of an anonymous surveyor, consider what a sustained public education campaign on these matters could achieve."
The groups also said that it’s worth noting that the survey understated how radical the Roe regime is, as the surveyors avoided the complication of explaining that the "health" exception is so expansive that abortion is, for all practical purposes, available for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.
The poll found that Republicans initially favored the overturning of Roe by 60 to 32 percent. By the end of the survey, that already whopping margin had increased to 67 to 29 percent.
The swing among Democratic voters was especially marked: 26 points in the direction of favoring a reversal of Roe.
Voters in red states initially opposed the overturning of Roe by 50 to 39 percent. By the end of the survey, they favored the overturning of Roe by 47 to 44 percent.
The poll also asked Americans if they thought abortion should be legal or illegal in a variety of circumstances and found that 60 percent believe that abortions should be legal in 90 percent of the cases in which they’re done.
"For all who care about pro-family and pro-life issues, as well as the proper role of the Supreme Court in our system of government, it is imperative that the American people understand how extreme Roe really is," the groups concluded.
"It is equally imperative that they learn that the reversal of Roe would merely restore to the American people their ability to make abortion policies through their elected representatives, instead of having abortion law made by unelected judges."