Support For Abortion Rights Grows As Extremist Views Harden
A new poll finds that public support for abortion rights is increasing, but it also shows growing support for extreme views at both ends of the spectrum.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows solid growth in support for abortion rights, although there are some caveats for proponents on both side of the issue:
Abortion is always a tense issue in American politics, but this spring it has become a major topic of discussion after several states – Alabama, Georgia, Missouri – tightened restrictions around the procedure. And, judging by the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, those new laws and the conversation around them may be shifting and hardening attitudes on the issue as 2020 approaches.
A look at the long-term numbers shows solid growth in the number of Americans who say the procedure should be legal or legal most of the time. Overall, the number of Americans saying that has climbed seven points since 2008, to 56 percent in the latest poll from 49 percent in September of 2008.
Looking at some of the details in the poll numbers, we find this:
- 56% of those surveyed say abortion should be legal most or all of the time. In a similar poll taken in 2008 49% of respondents said they supported abortion rights to this extent;
- 52% of men say they believe that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances. In 2008, 50% said they held that position;
- 60% of women say that believe that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances. In 2008, 49% said they held that position;
- 81% of Democrats said they supported abortion in most or all circumstances. In 2008, that number was 68%.;
- Among what the poll refers to as “core Democrats,” support for abortion in all or most cases increased from 50% in 2008 to 58%;
- 29% of Republicans said they support in most or all circumstances. In 2008, that number was 25%; and,
- Among “core Republicans,” opposition to abortion in all cases increased from 18% in 2008 to 27% today.
Also notable about the poll numbers is the fact that positions seem to be hardening on both of the extreme ends of the abortion rights debate:
You can probably guess what’s driving some of that movement. The partisan divide on abortion is nothing new and it shows up in this hardening of views.
To be clear, the latest NBC News/WSJ poll shows a solid majority of Americans believe abortion should be completely or mostly legal. The 56 percent saying holding those views in this poll is a record high for the survey and the second consecutive NBC/WSJ poll where that group has been above 50 percent. That’s significant.
But underneath, these numbers offer a look at a larger trend that can be seen across the board in U.S. politics in 2019, a falling away of the middle. And as both sides dig in on the opposite ends of the abortion debate, 2019’s legislation and conversation may simultaneously be contradictory impacts.
The numbers in the latest poll suggest Americans may be moving toward more of a consensus position in favor of abortion rights, but the movement toward more absolute views on both ends of the debate may mean an increase in tensions on one of the nation’s most divisive issues
It’s not hard to understand why positions in the abortion debate appear to be hardening, and it all has to do with what supporters worry, and opponents hope, is an oncoming threat to the Supreme Court’s precedents Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey. and reaffirmed in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt et al, are believed to be in more serious danger than they have been in the past. The first development in this regard, of course, was the retirement of Anthony Kennedy at the end of the Supreme Court’s last term and his replacement by Brett Kavanaugh, who is believed, correctly or not, to be more likely to support a decision that would effectively overrule those cases. Additionally, the past year or so has seen a number of states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Georgia, that have passed laws that are clearly meant to challenge Roe head-on. These developments have clearly energized both sides of the debate and caused people in both the anti-abortion and pro-choice camps to harden their respective positions.
What is significant, though, isn’t the extremes so much as the fact that the consensus position seems to be gaining support among the American public at a more rapid pace than we have seen in the past, and it’s consistent with the general trend we have seen in polling on the issue going back for the past several years
The numbers from this NBC/WSJ poll are consistent with a poll conducted last month by Reuters and IPSOS which showed majority support for abortion rights in most or all circumstances, It’s also consistent with another recent poll that showed that most Americans, including a plurality of Republicans, oppose overturning Roe and its progeny. It is also consistent with other polling conducted before the Kennedy retirement and Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the latest spate of new state-based abortion laws. All of these polls show that most Americans would prefer the Roe precedent stay in place. A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, for example, found that 67% of Americans opposed overturning Roe while only 29% supported overturning it. Similarly, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 63% of those surveyed opposed overturning the decision while only 31% supporting overturning it. Finally, and most recently prior to this poll, a Gallup poll found that 64% of those surveyed said that they opposed overturning the decision, while just 28% said they supported overturning it. Finally, a poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 71% of those surveyed favored keeping the precedent in place while only 23% favor overturning it. Finally, a poll released one week ago by Quinnipiac University which finds that 65% of Americans support keeping Roe as it is, while just 27% support overturning it. Not surprisingly, these polls also show that at least in the early stages of pregnancy Americans support the right of women to choose to have an abortion.
Polls like these are important because of the implications they have for the 2020 elections. While Republican opposition to abortion exists largely to please the religious groups that are part of the GOP coalition, most specifically the Evangelical Christians, the poll numbers showing that even a large segment of the group of people that consider themselves Republican don’t want to see Roe overturned and support the right to choose at least to some extent are significant because they show that the GOP base isn’t as united on this issue at it appears..
Furthermore, opposition to overturning Roe and support for abortion rights generally is very high among women, among younger voters, and among those not aligned with any political party but who sometimes lean Republican is fairly high. These are groups among whom the GOP is already in trouble electorally. Seeing the party tied to these new highly restrictive laws and a strategy that seems aimed not at adopting a law that will actually go into effect but in plotting a strategy to overturn Roe could cause them to abandon the GOP at an even faster rate than they already are.
This is why you’ve seen many top Republicans distancing themselves from this new slate of anti-abortion laws; because they are afraid of the political implications of being tied to an effort to restrict abortion rights. It also explains why many opponents of abortion have sought to discourage other states from following in the footsteps of those that have passed extremist anti-abortion law. The more this issue is at the forefront in 2020, the more it’s likely to motivate voters already inclined to oppose Trump and the GOP.
And yet the evangelicals are THIS close to getting Roe overturned. Just yesterday Thomas wrote that it was time to question the respect we give to precedents. Just because the people want something, or oppose something, doesn’t mean the Government is going to respect those desires.
Almost everyone thinks some amount of gun control is smart. But the NRA vision, of our streets resembling the wild-wild-west, is our reality.
I don’t even know why we bother polling.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
Thomas’s concurrence was signed by one person, him, and we already know where he stands on the question of whether or not Roe and Casey are good law. It’s hardly a sign that those precedents are in immediate danger. In fact, I think it’s unlikely that any of the recently enacted laws will end up before the Supreme Court. Instead, they’ll be blocked at the District Court and Court of Appeals level because they are inconsistent with those rulings and SCOTUS will most likely decline to accept any of those cases for review.
I blame this hardening on the right side of the aisle. This is not at all a case of “both sides do it”. Increasingly the right believes, frankly, crazy sh*t and bases their policy on that. How many times have you heard an anti-abortion person say words to the effect that “Science has proven that life begins at conception. End of story. So you are all murderers.” This is just meaningless drivel. As I said in another thread:
As I commented on another thread…and no one thought a Senate Majority Leader would steal a Justice, either. These Republican Justices are political and activist. And Republicans see the ability – right now – to make all their dreams come true.
You have far more faith in Gorsuch and Justice Boof than I think is warranted.
There are a bunch of rulings coming out…I guess we will see.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
Yes we will, but the difference between you and me is that my concern is whether the decisions are correct under the law rather than being about who “wins” and who “loses.”
Speaking for myself, I am not comfortable at all with an unrestricted right to (third-trimester) abortion.
But if anti-choice zealots use each and every reasonable restriction to make it all but impossible to get any abortion at all, then it is not inconceivable that an absolute right to abortion is the lesser of two evils.
After all, how many women will carry a pregnancy two-thirds of the way to term and then decide to have an abortion for no good reason at all? If not zero, then something very close to that.
What’s missing with poll numbers is the fact that the taboo on talking about abortion has begun to be lifted, and few young women wish to go back to the era when abortion was safe, legal, and rarely ever spoken about. That’s what driving this final attack on abortion rights by the religious right. They have no input into actual society, so they’re banking on using the RW judges they own as a final power grab.
Nonsense…my concern is with what is right and, thus, whether the Republic wins or loses.
Your problem is your incessant, misguided, and ultimately destructive, “both-siderism”…not to mention your Clinton derangement.
But, if the Supremes decide it, it is correct under the law.
Further, in almost every case that comes before them, there are multiple, competing outcomes that are plausible under the law, and the Supremes are deciding between them.
The whole premise is so misogynistic. Anyone who goes around worrying what women will do when pregnant is insane. Worse is the fact that these people don’t care at all about guns. The right fixates on terrible cases like this Dutch girl who didn’t want to be fed and had battled mental illness. Meanwhile, 20K Americans a year take their lives with handguns but firearms are just awesome things the Founding Fathers order us to stockpile.
Totally misleading subheading here:
I was expecting extreme positions from the pro-choice crowd to either be allowing abortion up to age five, or a new pro-abortion position that mandates abortions.
Abortion access throughout a pregnancy isn’t all that extreme.
By world standards it is. By European standards it is. So, for example, abortion remains illegal in Germany although it is de facto permitted through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The laws governing abortion in most European countries are stricter than here.
I’m no expert…but I would presume that in Europe, due to generally superior health care, access to and use of contraception is more widespread. I think I am in agreement with most pro-choicers…make abortion both legal and rare.
I’m no expert…but I would presume that in Europe, due to generally superior health care, access to and use of contraception is more widespread.
I think I am in agreement with most pro-choicers…make abortion both legal and rare.
Anti-choicers are busy telling lies about infanticide.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
That is not the proper role of an appellate court. Their job is to interpret the law. Whether or not the outcome is “good” from a policy perspective should be irrelevant.
Nobody said it was an easy task. That’s why it is important to have well-qualified Justices rather and less important what side of the political aisle they may be on.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl: You used an alternate nym to say the same thing twice? Por que?
More likely one of the posts was an accidental botching of the name field. I did that once or twice since the blog software here went all weird and doesn’t retain those fields.
Dr. Jen Gunter wrote a piece for the New York Times about how she had to have a late-term abortion in a pregnancy and the horrendous but medically necessary tragedy that it was.
anybody who thinks they should have been allowed to step in and make her decisions for her in that situation is a piece of garbage.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
There is already a great deal of gun control laws on the books. Our reality is nothing like the “wild-wild-west” illusion you’re referencing. Thanks for providing further proof of my statement in a different thread that there are some subjects that cause the lefties to lose their mind like those on the right. Abortion being one of MANY subjects that causes right wingers to shut off their brains. So you get stuff like “LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION!!!” from people who really should know better.
@Modulo Myself: Why do you care if someone you’ve never met wants to end their life? Are you pushing to make suicide illegal? Are you engaged in any behaviour to help those people?
@Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m guessing they just missed the rest of their name somehow. D is the beginning of it. For whatever reason even when you ask for a post to be deleted it stays up visible to all.
@Doug Mataconis: @Doug Mataconis:
Gus and I probably agree with you. But Mitch the Sith, the Federalist Society, and the remaining Koch Bro seem to have other views.
In theory, yes. In practice not so much:
In Germany, for instance, it is not hard to get an abortion after 12 weeks in cases of “medical necessity” (which is interpreted rather liberally).
Comparing US abortion restrictions with European ones is a well-worn trope in anti-choice circles. In most cases it’s deliberately misleading.
I agree with most of this statement, but I do not agree that a “good” policy should be “irrelevant.” There are plenty of situations where legislatures half-ass a statute and punt it to the courts. While I agree that the legislature should write better or clearer legislation, I don’t think courts should ignore the policy implications where the legislation lacks adequate guidance and any action the court takes (or doesn’t take) will have such implications.
Nevertheless, I agree that it should not be the principal goal of any court to set policy or to bail the legislature out from a clearly stated “bad” policy.
What so-called pro-lifers never seem to admit is that abortion usually ends up being a case of shutting the barn door after the horse has been stolen–from the viewpoint of the woman it’s the least-crappy solution among a host of crappy solutions.
If pro-lifers REALLY were interested in getting rid of abortions they’d make sure some of the other proffered solutions were in fact better. And they’d be beating the drum like mad for better birth control and other stuff to make sure the woman never gets into the sticky situation in the first place.
@grumpy realist: but but but then people might engage in sex without repercussions!!! DON”T YOU KNOW THE BIBLE SAYS DON”T BE SLUTS UNLESS YOU”RE REPRODUCING!! YOU”RE GOING AGAINST GOD”S WILL!!!!!
It’s too bad we can’t have reasonable sex ed in this country…
@Teve: I dunno how it works on your computer but on mine, I click a cursor into the box and I get three choices: my actual name, just nutha…, and the abyss. I don’t gotta type nuthin’.
If the legislature has half-assed a statute then it is up to the legialture to fix it, not the courts.
So the courts should:
a) refuse to interpret a statute saying the answer is unknowable?
b) out of two entirely and equally plausible interpretations, chose the worse outcome just to prove that the legislature is too stupid to draft legislation?
c) out of two entirely and equally plausible interpretations, chose the better outcome and note very loudly that the legislature is too stupid to draft legislation and might want to take this up again if this is not what they intended?
I don’t have a problem with guns, and am solidly against outlawing them.
But 148 Mass Shootings this year…we are not yet thru June.
Compare gun violence in the US to almost any other country.
Just yesterday we had a Republican in combat gear shooting up a courthouse in Dallas. Watered down regulations did nothing to catch a guy who, based on his social media rants, was clearly disturbed. So your next argument will be that the watered down regs didn’t work in this case, so clearly regs don’t work at all. Hooey.
At least 90% of Americans prefer background checks on all gun sales.
The 2nd Amendment allows for regulation. See Heller.
The NRA (primary funding from Russia) and their Congressional cohorts prefer the 148 Mass Shootings.
Thoughts and prayers will be offered instead of solutions…because some guys just need to have their prosthetics.
@Doug Mataconis: ….well….the argument over who has to “fix the problem” is quite often where I see the dividing line in SCOTUS decisions, not liberal vs. conservative. Both sides will agree that there’s a problem, that it’s a really stinky problem, and that it’s gotta get fixed. It’s just that the “liberal” side thinks that SCOTUS can fix the problem through case law, while the “conservative” side thinks it’s really Congress’s responsibility and that SCOTUS shouldn’t step out of its bailiwick. I’ve noticed that whichever way they come down, there is invariably some paragraph yelling at Congress for not having done its job.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like living in the US if it were a civil law country.
(And can we get rid of all that ancient tax evasion stuff called springing/shifting executory interests? Pretty please?)
LOL…see Bush v. Gore. Or Hobby Lobby.
The Republican Justices long ago gave up on their proper role…and with the Dennison appointments it’s only going to get worse.
So don’t get one. But women should have control of their own bodies and their own healthcare decisions, and don’t need other people trying to use their personal comfort level as the determining factor as to what healthcare they can get.
When there are multiple plausible interpretations, and there generally are, which side of the political aisle the judge is on will usually determine whose rights matter more. The judicial philosophy is subservient to the politics.
For all his “strict constitutionalism”, Scalia wandered from case to case finding a “strict constitutionalism” way to screw over the less powerful.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl: All of which has nothing to do with your blatantly false claim that we lack “some amount of gun control”….
You can argue if there should be more or less gun control but don’t come out of the gate making factually false claims if you want to be taken seriously.
The dude in Dallas wasn’t in combat gear.. The one picture of the shooter would be laughable if not for his very real desire to cause harm to others.
What really blows my mind is you want the US government to troll all online traffic to look for a very vague notion of “disturbed” so the people involved can be arrested or have their rights curbed. Do you have any idea the amount of cost and manpower needed for such a project? I mean even China can’t get that far and they’ve been trying for decades now….
The only sales that don’t legally require a background check (NICS) are private sales. Good luck developing a workable set of laws that requires all private sales to commit background checks and keep relevant records for decades like FFL sales require (aka business sales)….
@Daryl and his brother Darryl: It still blows my freakin mind how the hobby lobby decision ended up…
They can file the record of sales with a government agency, perhaps?
Or we can privatize it and allow another party to maintain the records, if we are afraid of a government database of gun ownership.
And make the penalty for not doing the background check economically devastating — including liability for any acts committed with the illegally sold gun.
This isn’t hard.
@Gustopher: Well I see your point, but isn’t that what the goal is? I mean, didn’t Ben Franklin talk about the people having been given ‘a relatively benign aristocracy, if you can keep it?’
ETA: “And make the penalty for not doing the background check economically devastating — including liability for any acts committed with the illegally sold gun.”
Look for a reduction in gun sales and an increase in “stolen guns.” That isn’t hard either.
Oh, come on.
Aborting a healthy eight month old fetus when the health of the mother is not threatened, is not just another healthcare decision.
I don’t think for a minute that this is something that would occur regularly in the absence of regulation, but there is nothing wrong with society collectively determining that this isn’t something that should happen.
It’s not zealotry to believe that end-of-life decisions (whether it concerns post-viability abortion or physician-assisted suicide) should only be taken for compelling reasons, as determined, for instance, by at least two qualified medical professionals.
ETA: On occasion, I have been professionally involved in youth care (albeit from a bit of distance). I can tell you there are quite a few shitty/evil/mentally ill parents out there. Sometimes freedom can do with some restrictions.
@drj: Thank you. Came to make that point, and you’ve already done so.
Abortion restrictions in Europe, pretty much anywhere but Ireland & Italy are fairly permissive despite what’s “on the books.” Ireland is changing, quickly. The death of an otherwise healthy woman who was barred from medical assistance during her miscarriage because there was a heartbeat will do that to a country.
There is nothing quite as clarifying as a completely unnecessary death, apparently. Hopefully we can escape that fate.
And how many abortions are performed at 8 months that are elective? According to the CDC only 1.3% of all abortions performed in 2015 were later than 21 weeks (https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/abortion.htm) and less than one percent occur after 24 weeks (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/06/health/late-term-abortion-trump.html). Abortions that late are almost certainly due to health concerns for the mother and/or non-viable fetuses. I do have to give you credit, though. “There are crazy people in the world so we should restrict women’s healthcare choices” is a novel argument.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Nothing to stop civil liability for acts committed with your stolen guns either. You should have kept them properly secured.
My wife deals with shitty parents on a regular basis. That is, she deals with them because they’ve been found to be shitty. Were it a legal procedure, I would be unsurprised to hear one of them wanted an abortion at 8 months. I would be surprised if it were perfectly healthy, and not a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome or exposure to illegal substances. But were it healthy, that shitty parent is not going to be able to snap their fingers and get an abortion. They are going to have to find a medical professional willing to do the procedure. So there’s one qualified medical professional there. Not sure what is to be gained by making them go get a second opinion. Particularly when they can keep soliciting opinions until they get one they like.
Guess why this is.
Because of the very same regulations currently in place that the two of you apparently want to get rid of.
You can’t claim that regulation is unnecessary because the situation it seeks to prevent from occuring is, in fact, effectively prevented from occuring.
Am I perfectly happy with the existing regulations? No. But that doesn’t automatically mean that no regulation whatsoever is the most ideal alternative.
So you’re saying that there is a statistically significant amount of women in the 8th month of pregnancy that, but for regulations, would be aborting their pregnancies for non-medical purposes?
I’m not sure I find that argument compelling.
Now you’re just trolling.
As I said before:
Moreover, I also recognized that seemingly reasonable restrictions on post-viability abortions can be abused by the anti-choice crowd; and that therefore no restrictions at all may be preferable in practice – even if this wouldn’t be (IMO) the ideal outcome:
By the way, in your last comment you all but conceded the point that normal, healthy pregnancies shouldn’t be terminated in the eight month for shits and giggles.
So I am not even sure what your point is, except that it seems you REALLY want to burnish your credentials as a member in good standing of the 29th Progressive Purity Brigade.
No trolling intended, and not trying to burnish any credentials. Apologies for coming across that way. And no, I’m not conceding that “normal, healthy pregnancies shouldn’t be terminated in the eight month for shits and giggles”, simply saying I think it is (or would be) exceedingly rare and I’m not sure we should legislate on the margins like that.
And I thought I’d stated my point initially, that women should have control of their own bodies and their own healthcare decisions. You’re dismissing it as an attempt to burnish credentials, so I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
No, I’m not claiming that. I posited what would happen in the absence of regulation. What I’m trying to get you to understand is that the vast majority of doctors will not perform such an abortion, and will not be required to, any more than doctors are required to perform any other procedure. And if the shitty parent is determined enough to have that abortion that they manage to find such a doctor, they will keep searching until they find a second. In which case, your condition of two medical professionals is met, and where have you changed anything? That’s not to say I don’t think there’s things that can be done, such as require an induced labor or c-section after viability if the fetus is truly perfectly healthy. But telling the person shitty enough to pursue such a procedure that they can’t end the pregnancy isn’t going to help the fetus if the parent then decides to embark on self-destructive behaviors that ultimately harm it.
@Gustopher: You provide no actual details on how any of that could possibly work. It’s not hard at all when you stick to incredibly generic statements. Trying to develop actual means of enforcement and establishing the infrastructure to deal with the changes on the other hand are extremely hard.
None of which would have any effect on the criminals using guns to commit crimes…
@Han:Who defines securely stored? Do some google searching and you’ll find dozens of articles involving police forces losing guns or having them stolen from “secured” facilities.