Various media outlets, including the Albany Times Union, have favorably reported on a recent Quinnipiac University poll. This survey purportedly finds that two thirds of New York residents support the abortion-expansion provisions included in Governor Cuomo’s revamped Women’s Equality Act. However, these results greatly overstate the amount of public support for Governor Cuomo’s proposal.
Respondents were asked only if they “support allowing late-term abortions when the woman’s health is at risk, but her life is not at risk.” This was misleading for a couple of reasons. First, the Roe v. Wade decision already allows for late-term abortions when a woman’s health is at risk. Second, respondents were not asked about other, more controversial, aspects of the Women’s Equality Act.
A far better poll was commissioned by the Chiaroscuro Foundation and conducted by McLaughlin and Associates this past February. It asked a battery of questions about Governor Cuomo’s proposal to liberalize New York’s abortion laws and found that many aspects of this proposal were unpopular. For instance, 75 percent oppose changing the law so that someone other than a doctor can perform surgical abortions. Eighty percent oppose unlimited abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy.
Overall, there is no great public demand for expanding access to abortion in New York state. The Chiaroscuro poll informed respondents that over 100,000 abortions are performed in New York State every year. After hearing this figure, 78 percent of respondents believe there is sufficient access to abortion in New York State. Unfortunately, polling results like these typically receive scant attention from the mainstream media.
— Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan–Dearborn, a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, and an adjunct scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.