Earlier this month, on the Washington Post’s The Fix blog, Aaron Blake published a thoughtful analysis of recent polling data on 20-week abortion bans.
He states that “Democrats are sure to use the new proposed restrictions to feed the narrative of Republicans’ ‘war on women’” However, Blake points out that there is a growing body of evidence showing that women are actually more likely than men to support such a ban. Blake cites four recent national polls which show that women are anywhere from 4 to10 percentage points more likely than men to support banning abortion after 20 weeks.
Blake also correctly states that incremental pro-life laws, like the 20 week ban, enjoy broad public support. He acknowledges that these statistics do not guarantee that a 20-week abortion ban will work to the advantage of Republicans — intensity is important in the abortion debate.
However, Blake should have reported on survey data indicating that among voters who consider abortion an important issue a significant majority consider themselves “pro-life.”
This is the second time in a month that a mainstream media outlet has provided a thoughtful, balanced analysis of public-opinion data on abortion. Back in July, the New York Times published an analysis by David Leonhardt in their FiveThirtyEight blog. Leonhardt considers data from a range of recent surveys. He nicely demonstrates that survey results on sanctity of life issues are very sensitive to the way questions are worded. Leonhardt also shows that men and women have fairly similar attitudes toward abortion and acknowledges that the pro-life position has made gains in the court of public opinion in the past 20 years.
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Overall, it is heartening to see both the New York Times and the Washington Post analyze abortion-survey data in a detailed, thoughtful, and nuanced manner. Unfortunately, their coverage of other abortion related issues – including abortion trends, contraceptive programs, and the public health impact of abortion – typically lack such balance.
LifeNews.com Note: Dr. Michael New is a political science professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is a fellow at Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.