MGRABER at GVPT.UMD.EDU
Mon Jan 22 13:45:02 PST 2001
For what it is worth, polls on abortion vary dramatically depending on wording. Add about 10-15 points to a pro-choice position if the phrase "in consultation with her doctor or family" is added. The relative relations remain fairly constant. More people approve abortions because of fetal defects than because the family is too large, no matter what the wording, but neither pro-choice or nor pro-life nor pro-wishy-washy should treat as too authoritative any particular wording.
Mark A. Graber
mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu
>>> jlindgren at WORLDNET.ATT.NET 01/22/01 12:37PM >>>
I took a look at the polls linked below and it seems that most of us law
professors who believe that abortion should be legal and widely available are in
the minority on this issue. In the studies you report, only 20-38% favor a full
women's right to choose an abortion for any reason. Most of these data are
consistent with the General Social Survey, which has a better response rate than
most of the polls you link and asks a full range of reasons for abortion.
Actually, it finds a bit higher support for abortion rights than some of the
polls you cite.
In 1998, only 41% of the American public believed that it should be possible for
a woman to receive a legal abortion if a woman wants it for any reason, a
position roughly consistent with current law.
The reasons break down as follows:
It should be possible for a woman to receive a legal abortion:
41% "if a woman wants it for any reason"
42% "if she is not married and does not want to marry the man"
42% "if she is married and does not want any more children"
44% "if the family has a very low income and cannot afford any more children"
79% "if there is a strong chance of a serious defect in the baby"
80% "if she became pregnant as a result of rape"
88% "if the woman's own health is seriously endangered by the preganancy"
% saying YES out of total saying YES or NO
Data: computed from 1998 GSS, NORC, Cumulative Codebook, 1999 (Q 206).
I don't know what Ashcroft's views are, but my guess is that we who favor full
abortion rights are in the minority (41%) by supporting abortion for any reason,
while Ashcroft is somewhat more in the minority by opposing abortions for
serious birth defects (21%), but I'm not an expert on this by any means, nor do
I know much about Ashcroft.
Gary Allison wrote:
> Below is a polling service reference you may find useful in determining
> what views are or are not mainstream with respect to abortion issues.
> Although none of the polling questions asked deal directly with the issues
> of whether abortions should be permitted only when two doctors and all
> prosecutors agree that a woman's life is endangered by her pregnancy or
> whether forms of birth control that work by keeping fertilized eggs from
> implanting themselves in the woman's uterus, they do indicate that less
> than 20% of respondents favor outlawing abortion completely. For all
> practical purposes, limiting abortions only to situations where doctors can
> convince prosecutors that a woman's life was endangered by her pregnancy
> really outlaws abortions completely. It is therefore reasonable to say
> that people holding this view are outside the mainstream.
> Moreover, Brad's definition of who is antichoice is very narrow. I know
> many people who believe they are antichoice simply because they support
> parental consent laws or laws outlawing certain procedures (so-called
> partial birth abortion laws) or laws forbidding women to abort because they
> do not like the gender of the fetus but yet when asked say they generally
> support a grown woman's right to decide for herself whether to carry a
> pregnancy to term. Many other antichoice persons do not want to ban any
> form of birth control, for they think there is a substantial difference
> physically and morally between fertilized eggs, zygotes in the early stages
> of pregnancy, and well-developed fetuses on the verge of viability.
> Finally, perhaps both Brad and I should admit that with respect to debating
> the merits of the constitution recognizing individual fundamental rights an
> inquiry into what is mainstream is not useful and probably inappropriate.
> Such rights protect individuals from having government take certain actions
> against them know matter how politically popular those actions are. It is
> for that reason that over the years many polls have indicated that less
> than a majority of the general public support many of the rights contained
> in the Bill of Rights [these polls gave the recipients the text of various
> Amendments and asked they if they supported such laws].
> At 01:54 PM 1/17/2001 -0500, you wrote:
> >Gary Allison wrote:
> >"Mr. Ashcroft is out-of-the-mainstream because of his almost total
> >opposition to abortion in all its forms. To my
> >knowledge, if he could dictate abortion law he would permit abortions only
> >when a woman's life was deemed to be at risk."
> >Upon what do you base the assertion that this view is outside of the
> >mainstream? How do you define "mainstream"? A significant minority of the
> >electorate hold this position. Obviously many people disagree with it, but
> >there is no homogenous majority of people who agree on any aspect of the
> >abortion issue. Many people agree with Ashcroft, many agree with him but
> >would add a rape exception, some would add both rape and incest, etc. The
> >spectrum then goes all the way over to the NARAL/Planned Parenthood postion
> >of unfettered access to abortion for whatever reason. Each group could be
> >considered outside of the "mainstream" in that they do not comprise a
> >majority of the population.
> >Gary Allison wrote:
> >[Senator Ashcroft's] opposition to providing the morning after pills to
> >women who fear
> >their recent voluntary or involuntary participation in a sex act may cause a
> >pregnancy not only is a heartless position--it is a position shared by a
> >very small part of the American electorate."
> >Again, upon what is this assertion based? There is virtual unanimity in the
> >pro-life community that the morning after pill is the practical equivalent
> >of an abortion: whether the fertilized egg is prevented from implanting or
> >is subsequently removed is considered to be of no moral significance. I
> >understand many people disagree with that, but the entire pro-life community
> >cannot, it seems to me, be fairly characterized as outside of the
> >Brad Clanton
> >House Judiciary Committee
> >Constitution Subcommittee
> >362 Ford House Office Building
> >Washington, D.C. 20515
> >202.226.7685 (phone)
> >202.225.3746 (fax)
> Gary D. Allison
> Professor of Law
> University of Tulsa College of Law
> 3120 E. 4th Place
> Tulsa, Ok 74104
> (918) 631-3052 (O); (918) 631-2194 (F)
> gary-allison at utulsa.edu
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