Roe v. Wade Losing Public Support

16 05 2007

Filed under: Abortion, Roe v Wade, Ethics, Politics

Still working on the road today. What happens when people learn the facts about Roe v. Wade? An increasing number think it should be overturned. Ignorance is not bliss in this case.

A national public opinion survey (pdf) released this week shows that many people who know the facts about Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion — think it should be overturned.

The survey, commissioned by the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Judicial Confirmation Network and conducted by Ayres, McHenry & Associates, Inc., was completed earlier this month.

“Public opinion on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is significantly affected by a focus on the conditions under which abortion is allowed by the ruling,” the survey report stated.

David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, said the survey confirms what he’s known for years.

“If you just ask about Roe v. Wade, there’s majority support for it. Using the slogans of modern business, Roe v. Wade is a ‘brand’ that has been sold to the American people by the media,” O’Steen said. “But if you describe what Roe v. Wade does, then a majority doesn’t support it.”

In response to the survey’s first question – “Would you like the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, or not?” – 55 percent said Roe should not be overturned; just 35 percent indicated it should.

Support for Roe varied depending on circumstances. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they supported abortion when the life of the mother is at risk, and 77 percent said it should be legal if the pregnancy poses a health risk or if it resulted from rape or incest. If the preborn child was diagnosed with a “serious physical or mental deformity,” abortion support dropped to 55 percent.

Seventy-nine percent said abortion should not be legal if “the woman does not like the gender of the fetus”; 72 percent said it should be illegal if the woman believes the child would interfere with her life; and 65 percent said a lack of financial stability does not make it right.

Respondents were then told that Roe v. Wade allowed abortion in every circumstance presented – and were again asked if it should be overturned. This time, 48 percent said it should not be overturned; 43 percent said it should be.

“While many Americans will say they support Roe v. Wade,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior bioethics analyst at Focus on the Family Action, “most don’t know it allows unrestricted abortion for any reason throughout pregnancy.”

Roe is more of a brand or a household name than a precedent-setting case for most people today. If it ever does get overturned, states will be able to decide. But to get overturned, enough people need to be better educated about the crimes this ruling legalized.

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