What Polls Don’t ‘Consistently Show’ about Abortion

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Micah Cohen reports in the New York Times: “While polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans support a right to an abortion in all or most circumstances, surveys also show that support for abortion narrows further into a pregnancy.” The second half of the sentence is true. The first half is misleading.

Check out Gallup’s series of results of polls that ask people whether abortion should be allowed “under any,” “under most,” “only in a few,” or in no circumstances. The consistent result in Gallup: A majority thinks abortion should be legal in a few or no circumstances. In May, for example, 58 percent chose one of the two options most protective of unborn life.

The NBC/WSJ poll has occasionally asked people if they think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances; legal in cases of threats to the mother’s life, rape, or incest; legal most of the time; or always legal. This poll yields no consistent result, but the latest finding, from April, found a 52 percent majority for a complete ban or a ban with the three exceptions (which account for a very small percentage of all abortions).

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