National Pew Poll Features Poor Abortion Question, Most Oppose PBAs

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

National Pew Poll Features Poor Abortion Question, Most Oppose PBAs Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 10,

Washington, DC ( — A new national poll on the issue of abortion that the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted features a poorly worded polling question. But the survey also found that an overwhelming majority of people want the partial-birth abortion procedure illegal.

In the August survey published today, Pew asked 3,002 American adults when they think abortion should be legal.

"Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?" Pew asked those polled.

However, the polling question contained no description of when abortions are done — leaving respondents to figure it out for themselves.

Other polling data has shown that Americans believe abortions are done for reasons of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother significantly more often than is the case. The Alan Guttmacher Institute finds such abortions are done less than two percent of the time and that 98 percent of abortions are done for social reasons that are preventable.

With the poorly worded question, Pew still found that 42 percent of Americans want abortions to be illegal in most cases or in all cases.

Another 52 percent of Americans wanted abortions legal in all cases or in most cases, according to the flawed poll.

Pew also asked respondents about their views on the issue of partial-birth abortions, though the polling question contained errors as well.

"Now I would like to ask your opinion about a specific abortion procedure known as ‘late-term’ abortion or ‘partial birth’ abortion, which is sometimes performed on women during the last few months of pregnancy. Do you think that this procedure should be legal or illegal?" the poll asked.

However, partial-birth abortions are typically done in the second-trimester of pregnancy and are not considered late-term abortions.

Still, the poll found 75 percent of Americans wants partial-birth abortions to be illegal, as they are now under a national ban, while just 17 percent want them legalized.

Pew conducted the survey with telephone interviews from Aug. 1 to Aug. 18, 2007 and the margin of error is two percent.