In late July, the Gallup Polling Company released the results of a national poll gauging the public’s position on various kinds of prolife legislation. The poll was taken between July 15‑17, 2011, and asked specific questions about various laws which restrict abortion. Many of the laws have recently been passed in various states while other states are currently considering some of these laws.
The poll found 87 percent of respondents favored laws requiring doctors to tell women about the possible risks of abortion, 71 percent favored parental consent laws, 69 percent favored a 24‑hour waiting period before an abortion, 64 percent favored a ban on partial birth abortion and 50 percent favored a law requiring women seeking abortions to be shown an image of their ultrasound.
The poll also notably found the vast majority of Americans oppose abortion after the first trimester, more than 2/3 of poll takers (71 percent) thought abortion should be illegal in the second three months of pregnancy and nearly 90 percent favored making abortion illegal in the third trimester.
Interestingly enough if Gallup had asked these same poll takers whether they thought Roe v. Wade was a good decision, the majority of them would have probably said “yes.” That’s what a 2010 poll by CBS News found. In those results, 58 percent of Americans thought Roe v. Wade was a good decision.
This is noteworthy because the reason no state has banned abortion in the second trimester is because Roe v. Wade prevents them from doing so. While many state legislatures would likely have the votes to ban abortion after the first 3 months of pregnancy, no such ban has passed because legislators know such legislation would run afoul with Roe v. Wade and would quickly be ruled unconstitutional.
So how can 71 percent of Americans favor a policy which can’t happen because of ruling 58 percent of Americans think was good?
The answer is Americans don’t know Roe. A great follow-up to the question of whether they thought Roe was a good ruling would have been: “What did Roe v. Wade do, exactly?” A high number of responses would start with “Ummm...” and end with “I don’t know.”
This is where prolifers and the importance of educating the public on prolife issues need to come in. The main reason 58 percent of the public supports Roe v. Wade is because vast swaths of citizens have no clue what Roe v. Wade did. If they knew it overturned abortion laws in 50 states and set up a framework which prevents states from banning late-term abortions, support for Roe would plummet.
To learn more about how the public perceives abortion and the ramifications of Roe v. Wade, visit Right to Life of Michigan at www.rtl.org.