Disregard AP’s Poll Claiming Support for Abortion at Highest Level in Two Years, Here’s Why

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 22, 2015   |   2:49PM   |   Washington, DC

Have you seen one of the hundreds of copycat news stories out today claiming an Associated Press pol confirms support for abortion is at its highest level in two years? Feel free to disregard the headlines, because the poll is off the mark.

“Support for legal abortion in the U.S. has edged up to its highest level in the past two years, with an Associated Press-GfK poll showing an apparent increase in support among Democrats and Republicans alike over the last year,” one news story claimed. “Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — now think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 51 percent who said so at the beginning of the year, according to the AP-GfK survey. It was conducted after three people were killed last month in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.”

Despite the claim, the news stories fail to include any information about the poll’s wording.

The wording of the poll goes as follows: “Which comes closest to your opinion on abortion? Abortion should be..” and then respondents are asked if abortion should be legal in all or most cases or illegal in all or most cases. The problem with such a question is that it doesn’t define when or why abortions actually occur so the respondent is left to make an assumption as to when abortions take place and then value if those abortions are too frequent or not.

Many Americans wrongly assume a considerable number of abortions take place because of cases such as rape or incest — even though state and national abortion statistics routinely show that such abortions are done less than 2 percent of the time. Most abortions are done fort birth control reasons — something Americans have consistently opposed over the years.

Looking further, AP’s own abortion poll has more Americans saying abortion laws should be more strict than less — something most of the news stories about the new poll conveniently omitted.

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The new AP poll is also significantly out of step with every other major poll conducted about abortion this year.

A September CNN poll found 58 percent of Americans oppose all or almost all abortions.

CNN found that 18% said abortion should be illegal. Then it separated out those who believe abortion should be legal in “a few cases” [40%] versus those who said abortion should be legal in “most cases” [13%]. Putting together those who said abortion should be illegal with those who said legal in a few cases, CNN found that 58% believe abortion “should be illegal in most” circumstances.

One other important point: The change from almost a month ago was the increase in the percentage that said abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances–from 37% to 40%–with a concomitant drop in those who said abortion should be legal in all circumstances–from 30% to 26%.

So while AP claims abortion support is on the rise, CNN shows it dropping.

In May, a new Gallup poll found a majority of Americans oppose all or most abortions even though some Americans who technically take a pro-life position opposing abortion wrongly think they are “pro-choice” on abortion.

Gallup confirms a majority of Americans oppose all or almost all abortions. When asked when abortion should be legal, 55 percent of Americans oppose all abortions or say abortion should only be legal in a “few circumstances,” typically defined as cases such as rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. Since those cases constitute, at most, 1-2 percent of all abortion cases, Gallup’s numbers confirm 55 percent of Americans oppose 98 percent or more of the 1.1 million abortions that take place annually in the United States.

The poll makes it clear that even 27 percent of those who call themselves “pro-choice” actually take a pro-life position wanting all abortions illegal or abortion legal in only the very rarest cases. Just 9 percent of people who support unlimited abortion wrongly call themselves pro-life.

An April CBS News poll found 59% of Americans did not want abortion to be permitted or wanted much stricter limits.

AP’s poll, designed to attempt to show abortion support increasing right after the horrific shooting at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic — is inconsistently with most polling data showing a majority of Americans opposing all or almost all abortions.