On Roe v. Wade's 40th anniversary, new poll shows increased support for abortion rights

As politicians squabble, the public seems to have made up its mind on abortion rights.

by

comment

There's a lot to chew on in today's Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll regarding Americans' thoughts about abortion. The poll's release date is appropriate as today marks the 40th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions on a national level.

For years, polls have indicated more support for the pro-life movement, with many analysts saying a key factor has been the prevalence of sonograms; though opponents say that isn't true. In fact, last May, Gallup reported that by a 50-41 percent margin, more Americans called themselves pro-life v. pro-choice.

But when it comes to whether or not Americans support the 1973 law legalizing abortion, the poll shows that support has never been greater for the controversial law.

As written in the Wall Street Journal online article by Louise Radnofsky and Ashby Jones:

Seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, according to new data from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, as the landmark Supreme Court abortion-rights ruling turns 40 on Tuesday.

That is the highest level of support for the decision, which established a woman's right to an abortion, since polls began tracking it in 1989. The shift is mostly the result of more Democrats backing the decision—particularly Hispanics and African-Americans—and a slight uptick in support from Republicans.

GOP pollster Bill McInturff attributes the shift to how some GOP members handled the abortion issue in the 2012 election. Or can you say Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock? I thought you could.

"The dialogue we have had in the last year has contributed ... to inform and shift attitudes," McInturff told NBC News.

While Americans might support the law more than ever, the numbers are also in greater support of limitations on certain types of abortion (the poll shows that almost seven in 10 respondents say there are some circumstances in which they don't support abortion).

Popular support is not found in many of the states that have a Republican majority. The WSJ reports that opponents of abortion rights won a record 92 measures in 2011 restricting abortion in 24 states, and 43 more measures in 19 states in 2012.

Some people say the pro-life forces are winning. Today, The Daily Beast reported that there are just 724 places in the U.S. where a woman can actually get an abortion.

Perhaps reacting to the division of pro-life v. pro-choice people, Planned Parenthood released a video last week called "Not In Your Shoes," which talks about de-emphasizing such labels. It's interesting:

This campaign has been met with ambivalent responses from pro-choice liberals like Katha Pollitt of The Nation who wrote, "If the problem is that lots of people support Roe in the abstract but think it's too easy to get an abortion and too many women who have them are heedless sluts, it won't be long before "personal decision" sounds as lightweight as "choice," and "you're not in her shoes" summons up visions of Carrie Bradshaw's Manolos."

Today at noon, pro-choice activists, and women who support making "personal decisions," will demonstrate in St. Petersburg at the corner of Central Avenue and Third Street.

Add a comment