Abortion, labels, and common ground
August 20, 2012 Leave a comment
Actually came across this before the whole Akin mess. One of these days I’m going to publish my research on how much “pro life” and “pro choice” abortion labels muddy the picture. Most American are profoundly ambivalent about abortion as a policy matter, which is completely lost when we settle on simplistic, dichotomous labels. This is from Gallup last year:
Short version: most “pro life” persons favor policies that National Right to Life Committe considers unacceptable. Meanwhile, to an especially noteworthy degree, most “pro choice” favor restrictions on abortion that are strongly opposed by NARAL. Here’s the Gallup summary:
Abortion politics have been quite contentious in the United States; however, self-described “pro-life” and “pro-choice” Americans broadly agree on more than half of 16 major abortion policy matters Gallup tested in June and July. These policies generally have to do with protections for women’s vital health, preventing late-term abortions, and ensuring that abortion patients and parents are fully informed before an abortion.
While such positions may not square with those taken by the leading pro-choice and pro-life lobbying groups in Washington, enacting them would greatly narrow the scope of the debate among Americans as a whole. That would leave first-trimester abortions, abortions performed when physical or mental impairments of the fetus are indicated, when the mother’s mental health is endangered, and abortions performed for financial reasons as the main areas of contention over abortion. In addition, laws that require pregnant women to be shown ultrasounds, policies that allow healthcare professionals to opt out of participating in abortions, and banning federal funds to abortion providers would continue to generate controversy.
I really should get back to doing some research on this topic. It’s not exactly going anywhere as a controversial issue.