Monday, July 13, 2009

Gallup Poll Shows Change in Public Opinion Towards Abortion

Recent Gallup Polls show a shocking change in the public's opinion about abortion. When asked, "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?" the poll results showed that 51% of Americans consider themselves to be "pro-life;" a statistic that has risen from 44% since May of 2008. In response, a minority of 42% of Americans consider themselves to be pro-choice, decreasing from 50% in 2008. This is a drastic change from the poll taken in September 1995, where 53% of Americans polled considered him or herself to be pro-choice, and 33% considered themselves to be pro-life.

Many other questions regarding abortion legality (in terms of overturning Roe VS Wade and creating more stringent laws) were asked and showed similar responses.

The real question is: Why is "pro-life" (in reality: anti-choice) now the majority? Within the poll of this year, 4% of the population didn't know what the terms meant, and 1% had no opinion.

The wording of the question can bias one's answer, such as is the case with the poll regarding late abortion. The question asked in 2003 was: "Now I would like to ask your opinion about a specific abortion procedure known as 'late term' abortion or 'partial birth' abortion, which is sometimes performed on women during the last few months of pregnancy. Do you think that the government should make this procedure illegal, (or do you think that) this procedure should be legal?" The poll found that 25% thought it should be legal, 68% thought it should be illegal, and 7% had no opinion.

If one were to solely take these statistics in mind, it would seem that the majority of Americans were against late abortions. However, this question did not include the circumstance under which most women have late abortions: when the life of the mother would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term. In 2003, 85% of those polled agreed that late abortion SHOULD be legal if the life of the mother were endangered, 11% still thought that it should be illegal (???), 2% were unsure, and 2% had no opinion.

So, finally, it is important to take into account how questions are worded, who is being polled, and current politics at hand. As a feminist, what do you think we should do to ensure a pro-choice America? President Obama being pro-choice doesn't guarantee a pro-choice nation, as much as one could hope.

Picture courtesy of openDemocracy

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