CHAPTER 76 PUBLIC OPINION POLLS: PURE PROPAGANDA
American Life League

We all do no end of feeling and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon. Its name is public opinion. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.

                                                                                                          Mark Twain.[1]

Anti-Life Philosophy.

A NARAL poll in February showed that 88 percent of registered voters believe abortion should be available to women.

                                                              Mother Jones Magazine, June 1980, page 18.

Abortion must remain legal, because the overwhelming majority of the American people are pro-choice. Polls repeatedly show this attitude. We will not allow a demonstrably small and vocal minority to force their narrow morality onto us.

Introduction.

The pro-choice side has mistaken public acquiescence for public enthusiasm ... Abortion on demand has never been popular in anything but theory.

                                                      Public opinion research expert Victoria Sackett.[2]

At least 200 major polls on the attitudes of the American people regarding abortion have been performed since the United States Supreme Court's abominable 1973 decision Roe v. Wade.

It is fascinating to note that the only polls that show public acceptance of abortion were commissioned by or performed by pro-abortion organizations!

Anyone who believes a poll conducted by a pro-abortion organization showing support for legal abortion would probably also be gullible enough to believe an American Tobacco Institute survey showing that smoking is good for your health or a study done by a homosexual activist which concluded that homosexuality is genetic.

Even some of the polls commissioned by such fanatically pro-abortion groups as Planned Parenthood show a generally pro-life attitude in the American public.

Pro-Abortion Tactics for Poll Manipulation.

There is no tyranny so despotic as that of public opinion among a free people.

                                                                                                            Donn Platt.[3]

As every pro-life activist knows, anti-life people have no use for the truth unless it can advance their cause. Therefore, they must manufacture a package of lies that merely looks like 'truth.'

Unfortunately, this is a very effective tactic. The pro-abortion strategists correctly realize that the vast majority of the American public has a very short attention span and thinks of critical issues in only the most superficial way.

Pro-abortion groups can obtain a pro-abortion poll response by using one or more of four deceptive tactics;

(1) They prejudice answers by stating the pro-abortion position as fact;
(2) They dishonestly manipulate the results;
(3) They deliberately lie about the facts; and
(4) They use prejudicial language.

These tactics are described in the following paragraphs.

Tactic #1: Stating the Pro-Abortion Position as Fact.

The most common tactic generally used by pro-abortion groups is to preordain public response by stating the pro-abortion position as fact.

Several excellent examples of this tactic were displayed in the January 1988 poll conducted by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

Two of NARAL's poll questions, and the results they elicited, are shown below.

RESULTS OF NARAL ABORTION POLL QUESTIONS WITH A PRO-ABORTION SLANT

Question: "Abortion is a private issue between a woman, her family, and her doctor. The government should not be involved. Do you agree or disagree?"

Results:
Agree:     78 percent
Disagree: 22 percent

Question: "Since nobody really knows for certain when life begins, people should follow their own moral convictions and religious teachings on the abortion issue. Do you agree or disagree?"

Results:
Agree:     68 percent
Disagree: 32 percent

Of course, this tactic can work for any viewpoint, as demonstrated in a 1985 Planned Parenthood Federation poll conducted by Louis Harris and associates. Included among the poll questions were two examples of bias in a pro-life direction. These questions inevitably yielded pro-life results;

RESULTS OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD ABORTION POLL QUESTIONS WITH A PRO-LIFE SLANT

Question: "The life of a baby is just as important as the life of a mother, so abortions should be banned."

Results:
Agree:        46 percent
Disagree:    35 percent
Undecided: 19 percent

Question: "To perform an abortion, even during the first three months of pregnancy, is the equivalent of murder, because a fetus' life has been eliminated."

Results:
Agree:       55 percent
Disagree:   42 percent
Undecided:  3 percent

It is interesting that even a Planned Parenthood poll reveals the reality a pro-life America regardless of whether the word 'baby' or 'fetus' is used.

Tactic #2: Dishonestly Manipulating the Results.

Deception By NARAL. The pro-abortion people love to twist numbers around to suit themselves. To paraphrase an ancient saying, "There are three kinds of lies lies, damned lies, and NARAL statistics."

For example, the January 1988 NARAL poll mentioned previously had a third question that asked when abortion should be allowable. The results;

Question: "Abortion should be allowed;"

Results:
Under any conditions         39%
Only for certain conditions 49%
For no reasons at all          10%
Don't know                         2%

The category "only under certain conditions" included the classic "hard cases" of rape, incest, and severe fetal deformity.

So what did NARAL do? It simply added the first two categories together and trumpeted that "88 percent of all people are pro-choice." This naturally gives the average person the impression that 88 percent of all people want abortion on demand kept legal, which is precisely the effect that the dishonest NARAL people wanted.[4]

A graphical representation of this statistical chicanery is shown below.

GRAPH NOT AVAILABLE

NARAL and the National Abortion Federation (NAF, which also conducts its own opinion polls) know that most Americans are very uneasy about the idea of unlimited abortion. So they simply lump together those who would allow abortions for numerous exceptions (which is essentially abortion on demand) with those who would allow it only to save the life of the mother, or for rape and incest.

In other words, those who support abortion only for the "hard cases" (which represent only one percent of all abortions) are considered identical to those who would support all but a few abortions (say for sex selection).

This is hardly scientific polling. It is rather like asking "do you favor jail terms for crimes?" with only three possible responses: Yes, no, and under certain circumstances. The results of such polls are useless for any scientific purpose; indeed, their only possible use is as propaganda.

Conclusion. Dr. Jack Willke, former president of the National Right to Life Committee, has said that he would fit under the definition of 'pro-choice' promulgated by these pro-aborts, as would most other hard-core pro-life activists who allow exceptions only to save the life of the mother and this category would also include Pope John Paul II!

Tactic #3: Lying About the Facts.

Is America "Pro-Choice?" It is absolutely true that major national polls have shown that the American public is "pro-choice." However, we must ask ourselves the essential question:

HOW DO THEY DEFINE 'PRO-CHOICE?'

One of the ways that pro-abortion groups can elicit a pro-abortion, or "pro-choice" response is by deliberately lying in the questions that they pose to respondents. Two examples of these 'lying polls' are described below.

Example #1.

As any pro-life activist knows, abortion is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Any major city has abortion clinics advertising in the Yellow Pages for abortions to 22 weeks, 24 weeks, and even 28 weeks.

The June 24-27, 1983 Gallup Poll asked the following question, which flatly lied about the primary conclusion of the Roe v. Wade decision;

Question: "The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a woman may go to a doctor to end her pregnancy at any time during the first three months of pregnancy. Do you favor or oppose this ruling?"

Results:
Favor:         50 percent
Oppose:      43 percent
No Opinion:  7 percent

Some pro-life activists have reported that if they reword the question to reflect the truth that abortion is legal right up to birth the response will be more than 90 percent pro-life every time. Virtually everyone is ignorant of the hideous reality of abortion far beyond viability the 40 to 50 third-trimester abortions performed every day.

This belief was backed up by a 1992 national Parade Magazine poll showing that 72% of all respondents believed that abortion should be illegal beyond the third month, regardless of reason.[5]

Example #2.

A "pro-choice" answer may also be extorted by deliberately lying about the pro-life position. For example, no pro-life organization or individual has seriously stated that a woman who obtains an abortion should be prosecuted for murder.

But the Gallup Poll of June 19-22, 1981, stated such a lie as fact in its opening query;

Question: "The United States Congress is considering a law which would declare that human life begins at conception, and therefore abortion at any time could be considered a crime of murder. Would you favor or oppose such a law?"

Results:
Favor:        50 percent
Oppose:     43 percent
No opinion:  7 percent

Notice that even lies don't always work; the response to the above query was pro-life!

Of course, taking a survey is a lot of trouble, and can be very expensive. Some media organizations simply make a pro-abortion statement as fact, and try to make their articles look authoritative.

One good example is an article in the September 13, 1989 USA Today. An article on page 3A trumpeted that "Black Women Support 'Roe.'" What was the size of the sample population they examined to arrive at this conclusion? Exactly four women including Faye Wattleton, then-president of Planned Parenthood and Patricia Tyson of the 'Religious' Coalition for Abortion Rights!

Switching Sides.

A May 1990 Wirthlin poll revealed that 52 percent of Americans who initially call themselves "pro-choice" modify their stands when questioned further.

All Americans who refer to themselves as "pro-choice" actually have the following attitudes towards abortion;

RESULTS OF THE MAY 1990 WIRTHLIN POLL ON ABORTION

Abortion should be totally illegal                             11%
Abortion should be allowed to save
   the life of the mother only                                    13%
Abortion should be allowed to save
   the life of the mother and for rape and incest        28%
Abortion should be allowed for any reason             48%

In other words, only half of all Americans who initially refer to themselves as "pro-choice" actually have a genuine thought-out pro-abortion position. The rest of all respondents could be called 'pro-life' or 'pro-life with exceptions.'

Bringing in the Abortion Pill.

The National Abortion Federation recognizes the utility of lying to the public in all areas relating to abortion. For example, the NAF and other abortion pushers have managed to convince a large segment of the American public that the RU-486 abortion pill is just another 'contraceptive.'

The reason for this subterfuge is simple: The NAF knows that Americans are more comfortable with birth control than they are with abortion. As one NAF writer confided;

When polls have been conducted on RU-486, the new French Pill, the results very depending on how the question is asked. If RU-486 is referred to as an "abortion pill," it has significantly less support than if it is called a new form of birth control. In many polls, the description can change support by as much as 15-20 points and determine if a majority of those polled are in favor of the pill.[6]

Tactic #4: Using Prejudicial Language.

Nietzsche once said that Jedes Wort ist eine Vorurteil "Every word is a prejudice." Nowhere is this axiom more true than in the field of public opinion polls.

Of course, the answer to any question is heavily dependent upon how the question itself is framed.

In an experimental poll conducted jointly in 1980 by the New York Times and CBS News, hundreds of persons polled showed themselves to be simultaneously for and against a Human Life Amendment, as shown below. The key words, which heavily slant opinion, are emphasized in both questions.

Question: "Do you think that there should be an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting abortion?"

Results:
Agree:     29 percent
Disagree: 62 percent

Question: "Do you believe there should be a constitutional amendment protecting the life of the unborn child?"

Results:
Agree:     50 percent
Disagree: 39 percent

Of course, this type of chicanery is not restricted to the issue of abortion.

In 1989 and 1990, there was a nasty fight over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), after the organization had used tax dollars to fund such 'works' as Andres Serrano's photograph of a crucifix dipped in urine and Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs of homosexual perversions.

After a public outcry that demanded that funding be withdrawn from such trash, Norman Lear's People for the American Way conducted a poll that 'showed' that 68% of all Americans approve of unrestricted NEA funding.

The question they asked was: "Do you think that government funding to avant-garde or leading-edge artists should be stopped because a few people feel their work is controversial?"[7]

The response would obviously have been far different if the question's language had been prejudiced in the opposite direction: "Do you approve of your tax dollars being used to pay for repulsive and bigoted trash masquerading as art, such as a photograph of a crucifix being dipped in urine and another of a man with a bullwhip stuck up his rectum?"

The Most Reliable Polls Finally, the Truth!

What we call public opinion is generally public sentiment.

                                                                 British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.[3]

The Format.

The most accurate indicator of public opinion is a multiple-answer question that requires the respondent to think in depth about his or her answer. The question must be taken from a very large and varied sample, and must not use prejudicial words, lie, or state as fact anything that may be mere opinion. The Hippocrates/Gallup poll posed the multiple-choice question shown below.

The poll conducted by Hippocrates was extremely rigorous in its standards of selection. An extremely large and varied opinion sample was compiled, and special efforts were taken to insure that the questions posed were non-prejudicial in their wording. It is interesting to note that option (4) reveals what pro-life activists have known all along that two-thirds of Americans disagree with the current situation in this country: abortion on demand for any reason whatsoever. This attitude is confirmed by the NORC attitude tracking poll described below.

RESULTS OF THE HIPPOCRATES MAGAZINE POLL ON ABORTION ATTITUDES

[A medium text size on your computer's 'view' setting is recommended, otherwise, the tables may be discombobulated.]

Question: "Do you think abortion is justified ..."

                                                                                                     Don't
                                                     Yes                  No                   Know

To protect the mother from
   serious health risks?                    78%                 17%                     5%

When major birth defects
   have been detected?                   56%                 34%                   10%

When there is a 50% chance
   the baby will have a
   serious inherited
   disease?                                     39%                 47%                   14%

At the mother's discretion,
   regardless of reason?                 26%                  65%                     9%

To limit a family's
   size?                                          22%                  69%                    9%

Under no circumstances,
   including rape and
   incest?                                       22%                  69%                    9%

Reference. "Where America Draws the Line." Hippocrates Magazine, May/June 1988.

Attitude Tracking Polls.

The most useful type of poll to activists on both sides of the abortion issue is not the 'snapshot' poll which records attitudes in a frozen instant in time, but the identical, well-constructed poll that is administered in an unchanging manner for year after year. This type of "attitude tracking" poll yields critical information on how the nation's attitudes are changing.

If it is to be reliable, a tracking poll must fulfill four requirements;

(1) The poll must sample a large and varied portion of the population;

(2) The poll must be administered at regular intervals in an unchanged format;

(3) The poll must consist of questions that are free of prejudicial language and attempts to 'lead' the respondent, as described above, and

(4) The poll must somewhat limit the available answers in order to eliminate confusion and an excess of contradictory responses. For example, "After divorce" would not be an appropriate response to the question "When does life begin?"

The NORC Attitude Tracking Poll.

The National Opinion Research Center has conducted attitude tracking polls on abortion since 1972. The results of all of the years of the poll are shown below.

RESULTS OF THE NATIONAL OPINION RESEARCH CENTER ATTITUDE TRACKING POLL ON ABORTION

                          'Harder' Cases                        'Softer' Cases

Year              #1          #2           #3           #4           #5           #6

1972              72           87           79           49           44           40
1973              84           85           83           49           48           74
1974              92           87           85           55           50           47
1975              91           84           83           53           48           46
1976              91           84           84           53           50           46
1977              91           84           86           47           50           47
1978              91           83           82           51           41           40
1979              90           83           83           52           47           43
1980              90           83           83           52           48           47
1981              91           84           83           54           48           47
1982              92           87           84           52           49           49
1983              90           83           79           44           40           39
1984              90           80           80           46           44           41

KEY: The primary question asked was; "Do you think abortion should remain legal for the following cases?"

Case #1: Woman's health seriously endangered
Case #2: Woman was raped
Case #3: Strong chance of serious fetal defect
Case #4: Woman can't afford any more children
Case #5: Woman is not married
Case #6: Woman wants no more children

Reference: National Opinion Research Center's General Social Surveys, described in Victoria Sackett. "Split Verdict: What Americans Think About Abortion." Policy Review, Spring 1985, pages 18 and 19.

Public Opinions On the 'Hard Cases.'

As shown above, the question asked the respondent if abortion should be allowed in each of six instances, including three 'hard' cases and three 'soft' cases.

The poll shows that a large majority of the public would approve of abortion in the cases of serious danger to the mother's health, rape, and serious fetal defect.

This many seem like a triumph to the pro-abortionists, until one realizes that the percentage of abortions performed for these 'hard cases' are as follows;

PERCENTAGE OF 'HARD CASES' AMONG ALL ABORTIONS

Mother's life and health:         0.13% (1 out of 769)
Rape and incest:                    0.06% (1 out of 1,667)
Fetal defects (eugenics):         0.24% (1 out of 417)
Total 'hard cases:'                  0.43% (1 out of 233)

Reference: For backup calculations and documentation on these figures, see Chapter 87, "Statistics on Abortion."

In other words, Americans generally approve of less than one-half of one percent of all abortions!

Put another way, if given the chance to vote on the subject, Americans would ban 99.5% of all abortions performed in this country today!

The statistics regarding the incredibly small number of abortions performed for the 'hard' cases may seem utterly unbelievable at first, but they are nevertheless true, and backed up by numbers given by the pro-abortionists themselves.

For detailed references, see Chapter 87, "Statistics on Abortion."

Overestimating Small Probabilities.

One of the reasons that public opinion may be skewed toward the 'pro-choice' position is that Americans tend to grossly overestimate the probability of occurrence of catastrophic or unfavorable events in all fields, including abortion.

An August 1990 Wirthlin Group survey of 2,000 voters nationwide showed that 47% believe that there are less than 500,000 abortions per year, as opposed to the actual number of 1.6 million. Respondents also said that an average of 46 percent of all abortions are performed to save the life of the mother and for rape and incest an overestimation of 25,000 percent![8]

Since most people overestimate the percentage of 'hard case' abortions by a factor of 250, it is no surprise that they would want to keep abortion legal in order to remedy the perceived 'epidemic' of rapes, cases of incest, deformed babies, and life-threatening pregnancies.

Of course, it is to the pro-abort's best advantage to keep women ignorant about abortion, and it is to their best advantage also to keep the public ignorant about the facts of abortion.

They have certainly done a good job of it.

The Doctors Have Their Say.

It is interesting to compare the attitude of doctors regarding abortion to that of the general public.

A 1985 survey of 1,300 obstetricians/ gynecologists by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) revealed that only 36 percent felt that personal choice or socioeconomic criteria were acceptable reasons for obtaining an abortion. Generally accepted reasons for abortion were rape and incest, fetal defects, and serious health risks enough to endanger life.[9]

Therefore, obstetricians and gynecologists appear to regard abortion in approximately the same light as the general public, even though this group includes the 'doctors' who commit the abortions.

This result is not surprising. Physicians themselves have commented on how difficult it is to get young physicians to perform abortions, because abortionists have an appalling reputation as society's garbagemen people who dispose of unwanted human beings.

Although they are considered 'untouchables' or near-pariahs by their peers, abortionists are protected, because their repulsive 'services' are considered by many to be necessary for a healthy society.

Gallup Attitude Tracking Poll.

The tracking poll shown in Figure 76-1 has been compiled in essentially the same format every two years since 1968. This tracking poll yields interesting information on the attitudes of Americans toward abortion. Once again, it shows that most of Americans believe that life begins at conception.

FIGURE 76-1
THE GALLUP ATTITUDE TRACKING POLL ON ABORTION

Question: "Some people feel that human life begins at the moment of conception. Others feel that human life does not begin until the baby is actually born. Do you, yourself, feel that human life begins at conception, at the time of birth, or at some point in between? If you feel that human life begins sometime between conception and birth, when do you feel that it begins?"

Response:
                                                 Three       Three        When       When
                                                Months    Months     Mother     Heart
                                                    or              to            Feels       Begins      At
                        Conception       Less         Birth           Life        Beating   Birth

ALL RESPONDENTS 
                                  54%           6%           8%           1%           2%          17%
SEX:
   Male                       49%           5%           8%           1%           3%          21%
   Female                    59%           8%           8%           2%           1%          14%
RACE:
   White                      54%           8%           8%           2%           2%          16%
   Nonwhite                53%           5%           8%           1%           1%           22%
EDUCATION:
   College                   48%           7%           9%           2%           3%           19%
   High School            56%           5%           8%           2%           2%           16%
   Grade School          59%           4%           4%           1%           1%           18%
REGION:
   East                        49%           3%          11%           1%           2%           21%
   Midwest                 59%           7%            3%           2%           2%           15%
   South                      57%           5%           6%            2%          2%           15%
   West                       49%           8%          13%           1%           2%           19%
AGE:
   Under 30                57%           7%           7%           1%           1%           16%
   30 to 49                 57%           6%           8%           1%           1%            15%
   Older than 50          53%           5%          9%            2%           2%           17%
INCOME:
   Under $5,000         51%           6%          11%          2%           2%           19%
   Up to $20,000        58%           5%           9%           2%           2%           21%
   Up to $25,000        57%           6%           7%           2%           2%           19%
   Over $25,000         48%           7%           6%           1%           1%           17%
POLITICS:
   Republican              53%           4%          11%          1%           2%           18%
   Democrat                55%           8%           7%           1%           2%           17%
   Independent            54%           4%           7%           2%           2%           17%
RELIGION:
   Protestant               52%           7%           8%           2%           2%           16%
   Catholic                  66%           2%           6%           1%           2%           14%
   Evangelical              68%           4%           6%           1%           2%           11%
OCCUPATION:
   Laborers                 56%           6%           2%           2%           1%           17%
   Professional            52%           5%           1%           1%           5%           18%
   Clerical/Sales          54%           5%           3%           3%           1%           13%
   Non-Labor Force   51%           6%           2%           2%           1%           17%
CITY SIZE:
   Rural                       60%           7%           7%           1%           2%           13%
   2,500 to 49,999      57%           4%         10%           4%           2%           14%
   to 499,999              55%           5%           8%           2%           1%           18%
   to 999,999              45%         10%           6%           2%           1%           23%
   1,000,000+             52%           3%           8%           1%           4%           20%

Reference: The Gallup Poll, Princeton, New Jersey, May 8 to 11, 1981.

Note that women are, in general, more pro-life than men. Democrats are more pro-life than Republicans(!), those who live in small towns are more pro-life than those in the cities, and the poor are more pro-life than the rich.

These and other polls have shown that four to six percent of respondents approve of abortions even in the third trimester past viability even for the "soft" case of a woman who simply did not want any more children. These people are hardened pro-abortion activists, and probably members of an organization like the National Organization for Women (NOW) or the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

Keep in mind the linchpin of their psychology: They literally cannot admit that any abortions are wrong, because this confession would chip away at all abortions and would cause them to indirectly admit culpability for the slaughter.

It is very useful to challenge pro-abortionists on these points during a debate to show just how fanatical they really are. Naturally, they will attempt to duck the question by diverting attention to some other issue.

Conclusion.

Many conclusions can be drawn from these attitude tracking polls, but the most important of all is that;

AMERICA IS BECOMING INEXORABLY MORE PRO-LIFE BY ABOUT ONE PERCENTAGE POINT PER YEAR, DESPITE THE PRO-ABORTS' MOST FRANTIC EFFORTS!

The Results of Other Major Polls.

Introduction.

In order to put one more nail in the 'pro-choice America' coffin, it is useful to examine the results of two of the most rigorous abortion polls ever executed in the United States.

The results of these polls are shown below.

RESULTS OF THE MARCH 27-29, 1989 BOSTON GLOBE/WBZ-TV PUBLIC OPINION POLL ON ABORTION

Question: "In this case, do you think it should be legal or illegal for a woman to obtain an abortion?"

                                                                             Abortion Should Be;
For the Circumstance                                       Illegal                     Legal

Fetus not the desired sex                                       93%                         3%
As a means of birth control                                    89%                         6%
Father unwilling to help
   raise the child                                                     83%                       10%
The woman is a minor                                           50%                       35%
Wrong time in life to have a child                           82%                       12%
Woman cannot afford a child                                 75%                       16%
Pregnancy would cause too
   much emotional strain                                         64%                       23%
Father is absent                                                     81%                       11%
Mother wants abortion but
   father wants baby                                               72%                       14%
Father wants abortion but
   mother wants baby                                             75%                       11%
Pregnancy resulting from rape                                  8%                       86%
Pregnancy resulting from incest                              11%                       83%
Potential genetic deformity                                     31%                       52%
Definite genetic deformity                                       23%                      65%
Woman's physical health
   in danger                                                            11%                       81%
Saving the life of a woman                                       7%                       86%

This poll is very revealing. Among other things, it shows that the large majority of Americans believe that husbands should have veto power over their wive's abortions.

RESULTS OF THE CONNECTICUT MUTUAL LIFE PUBLIC OPINION POLL ON ABORTION

Question: "Do you believe abortion is morally wrong, or is it not a moral issue?"

                                                                       Morally                    Not a
                                                                         Wrong               Moral Issue

General Public                                                      65%                        35%
Level of Religious Commitment
   Lowest                                                              43%                        57%
   Low                                                                  58%                        42%
   Moderate                                                          75%                        25%
   High                                                                  78%                        22%
   Highest                                                              85%                        15%
Gender
   Male                                                                 64%                        36%
   Female                                                              67%                        33%
Race
   White                                                                64%                        36%
   Black                                                                73%                        27%
Income
   Under $12,                                                        74%                        26%
   $12,000-$25,000                                              64%                        36%
   Over $25,000                                                    56%                        44%
Party Affiliation
   Republican                                                        64%                        36%
   Democrat                                                          68%                        32%
   Independent/Other                                             62%                        38%

Reference. Connecticut Mutual Life. National Survey: American Values in the 80's. Chapter Three: "The New Political Issues: Morality in America." Table 36, "Factors Affecting Perceived Morality of Abortion."

Why the 'Ambivalence?'

Introduction.

Many polls show that a large segment of the American public (anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent, depending upon the survey) believe that abortion is murder and that it is immoral, but they still believe that it should be available to women. This is analogous to a person putting "KEEP ABORTION SAFE AND LEGAL" and "ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN" bumperstickers side-by-side on his car. But nobody in their right mind would do such a thing, because they realize how schizoid such an action would make them look to other people.

The major media refer to this as 'the deep ambivalence of the American public over abortion,' implying that many people support the 'rape, incest and me' exceptions to abortion.

This seems to reflect an ingrained public hypocrisy on the issue, but the question is not this simple.

On the Role of God.

In addition to being schizophrenic on the moral issue on abortion, Americans have split their ethics and their actions in other critical areas as well.

For example, a study of a half-century of opinion polling in America entitled "The Rational Public" shows that 58 percent of all Americans believe that homosexual acts should be legal but that 80 percent feel homosexuality is wrong.[10]

Why do Americans feel that abortion and homosexuality are wrong, but are willing to let these activities be legal, and therefore allow them to enjoy our society's stamp of approval?

The answer is fundamental and very simple to explain. Americans want society to function in the same manner that they hope God functions.

According to James Patterson and Peter Kim, authors of the book The Day America Told the Truth, over 90 percent of all Americans believe in God. This huge percentage leads media organs to declare that "America is one of the most religious nations on Earth."

If this is true, why is our country in such deplorable condition morally and ethically?

Because although people believe in God, they simply ignore Him when making moral decisions. Religion plays almost no role whatever in the formulating of personal views and morality.

While it is true that the vast majority of Americans believe in God, the God they believe in is a merciful, wimpy God who would never condemn anyone to Hell. This is why a recent major Gallup Poll found that only 10 percent of all Americans said that their faith made a "discernable difference in their lives."[11]

In other words, people believe in God but have no use for His rules. Only ten percent of Americans believe in the Ten Commandments, and even less live by them. And more than eighty percent of all Americans believe that it is all right not to believe in God.[12]

The practical result of this type of thinking is obvious. Americans hope that God will not condemn them for committing acts that He has specifically labeled as sinful. Therefore, they model society after the way they hope God operates and see no inconsistency in having a society not condemn behaviors that most of its members believe are immoral.

More Categories of Belief.

The 'ambivalence' of the American public on abortion is also hard to explain if one assumes only three categories of opinion on abortion support, opposition, or 'undecided.'

James Davison Hunter, Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and an expert in public opinion polling, sees more than two dimensions to public feelings about abortion. In other words, it is not sufficient to merely draw a line between "opposed" and "supportive" and find a point on the line that fits the individual.

His classification of respondents into four instead of two categories helps explain such paradoxes as the majority of people who believe that abortion is murder, but who want to keep the practice legal. To these four general categories must be added the two smaller groups who actually clash in the abortion battle.[13]

These six categories are listed and described below.

(1) The "Solid Pro-Life." These people believe that abortion is murder and that life begins at the instant of conception. People in this category who are new to the debate may in some cases accept the "hard cases" that make up less than one percent of all abortions i.e., mother's life, rape and incest, and serious fetal deformity but agonize over the obvious inconsistencies that such an attitude presents. They would not consider an abortion for themselves. These are the people who are most likely to be driven to action by their philosophy, and they make up the vast majority of activist pro-lifers.

(2) The "Secretly Pro-Life." These people believe that life begins at conception, but generally do not believe that abortion is murder. Therefore, they find it easier to accept abortion for rape, incest and fetal deformities, and would probably consider an abortion for themselves or a close friend (i.e., the "rape, incest and me" exceptions). These people label usually themselves "neutral" or "moderately pro-choice" on the issue. They do not like to be publicly identified as "pro-life," because they perceive that this would lump them in with people who are very much different from them people they might find repugnant.

(3) The "Conveniently Pro-Life." These people believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is murder. However, they generally make more exceptions that those who are "secretly pro-life," and would more probably either have or consider an abortion for themselves. These people label themselves "moderately pro-life" or "strongly pro-life," meaning that they believe that they are pro-life, but they are in practice "pro-choice."[13]

(4) The "Reticent Pro-Choice." These people consider themselves "neutral" or "moderately pro-choice" on the abortion issue, and believe that abortion should be available for any reason until the point of viability. They believe that abortion involves the killing of human life, but are not willing to embrace the pro-life position because they believe that freedom is a 'higher good.' In other words, they are "pro-choice by default."[13]

(5) The "Personally Opposed Pro-Choice." These people are the opposite of the "convenient pro-life" because they are pro-choice in philosophy but pro-life in practice. In other words, they voice support for abortion but are very unlikely to have one themselves. They believe that life begins at viability and that abortion is not murder even after this point.[13]

(6) The "Solid Pro-Choice." These people believe that the debate over when life begins is irrelevant to the abortion issue. They instead focus their attention on relative degree of rights. Because of these beliefs, they generally support abortion for any reason until viability and beyond (although they are reluctant to say so). These are the people who are most likely to put their 'pro-choice' beliefs into action, because they see themselves as defenders of women's rights. These people are much more likely to favor abortion for any reason including for sex selection and for birth control are much more likely to favor euthanasia, and, according to Gallup polls, are more likely to favor the death penalty. This split between "liberalism" and "Neoliberalism" is buttressed by the results of extensive surveys that show pro-lifers in general being more concerned about social issues child abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, homelessness, hunger, racism, and even overpopulation than pro-abortionists. In fact, according to Gallup polls, pro-lifers are much more likely to oppose the death penalty than pro-abortionists.[13]


References: Public Opinion Polls.

[1] Mark Twain, quoted on page 9 of the May 1987 issue of The Advocate, publication of Advocates for Life Ministries of Portland, Oregon.

[2] Public opinion research expert Victoria Sackett, Public Opinion Magazine, April/May 1985. Also quoted in "The Pro-Life Public." ALL About Issues, April 1988, page 38.

[3] Quotes from Jonathon Green. The Cynic's Lexicon. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1984, 220 pages.

[4] J.C. Willke, M.D. "An Invalid NARAL Poll." National Right to Life News, February 11, 1988, page 3.

[5] Mark Clements. "Results From a National Survey: Should Abortion Remain Legal?" Parade Magazine, May 17, 1992, pages 4 and 5.

[6] "Successful Strategies: Managing the Media." National Abortion Federation. Abortion: Moral Choice and Medical Imperative. "Abortion Practice Advancement, Sixteenth Annual Meeting Workbook, April 13-14, 1992, San Diego, California." Page 133.

[7] Eagle Forum informational letter of June 1990.

[8] Peter Steinfels. "New Voice, Same Words on Abortion." The New York Times, November 20, 1990, page A10. Also see Larry Witham. "Public Ill-Informed On Abortion." Washington Times, November 9, 1990, page A5. See also "The Week." National Review, December 3, 1990, page 12.

[9] "Doctors Favor Abortions in Certain Cases." USA Today, August 25, 1985.

[10] John Balzar, LA Times - Washington Post Service. "Homophobia Runs Deep in U.S." The Oregonian, February 10, 1993, pages E1 and E8.

[11] Cal Thomas. "Candidates of a Lesser God." Conservative Chronicle, September 9, 1992, page 23.

[12] James Patterson and Peter Kim. "God Plays Small Role in U.S. Morality." The Oregonian, August 7, 1991, page B5. In this article, the authors of the book The Day America Told the Truth: What People Really Believe About Everything That Really Matters summarize the attitude of Americans toward God.

[13] James Davison Hunter. "What Americans Really Think About Abortion." First Things, June/July 1992, pages 13 to 21.


Further Reading: Public Opinion Polls.

Raymond J. Adamek, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Kent State University. "Abortion and Public Opinion in the United States," 1986.
This superb 16-page analysis of public opinion polls on abortion is the best available, and can be ordered from the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund, 419 7th Street NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20004. Telephone: (202) 626-8809.

Roger Rosenblatt. Life Itself: Abortion in the American Mind.
New York: Random House. 1992, 195 pages. The author approaches the killing of 5,000 babies every day by insisting that we should "learn to live with conflicted feelings on abortion." He describes the history of abortion and compares how other societies have dealt with it. The entire book is an appeal to the 'middle ground' in this issue and the author seems to be contemptuous of the 'extremists' on both sides and believes that they should be disenfranchised. This, of course, would not hurt the pro-aborts one bit, because they already have what they want. Rosenblatt describes our society as it will inevitably become unless pro-lifers can make an impression: Comfortable with any kind of Holocaust that does not affect relatives or immediate family directly.


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This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.


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