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There are few issues about which public opinion is both remarkably steady and completely unsteady at the same time than abortion. Think of it as the Schrodinger’s Cat of opinion problems—it exists in a quantum state.
This reflects partly the unease most people have thinking and talking about the issue, the seriousness of the vital moral questions involved, and the perennial problem of issue-polling where the form and order of the questions often determine at least the top-line result of every survey.
Most general polls find a majority of Americans in favor of abortion rights in general, and against overturning Roe v. Wade. Never mind that probably 99 percent of poll respondents have never read Roe, and have no idea what’s actually in it. And I’d guess an open-ended survey of the public would find the number of people who recognize the Casey decision is in the low single-digits. The answer about Roe reflects its famous name along with a general support for abortion rights.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken just last week found 54 percent of Americans opposed to overturning Roe, which is a lower figure than some polls have reported.
Here are the Gallup Poll figures about abortion attitudes over time, which shows that, if anything, long term opinion trends on abortion have moved slowly in the pro-life direction, unlike other “Progressive” causes like gay rights and same-sex marriage where public opinion became much more favorable over time:
Many surveys find majority support for some restrictions on abortion, especially third-trimester or late-term abortions. And there is substantial public support for parental consent for girls under 18 who want an abortion.
Politically this means the way the abortion debate will fall out post-Roe will depend on the features of proposed state laws, and how the debate is perceived.
Democrats today are abortion absolutists, and want unlimited abortion on demand right up to the moment of birth (in other words, long after fetal viability outside the womb). This absolutist principle is at the core of the legislation Congressional Democrats have introduced on Capitol Hill.
Beyond this, I expect Democrats won’t be able to help themselves, and will end up going into full Paul Wellstone Funeral mode over the issue, and will turn off a lot of people in the middle who hold conflicted or ambivalent views on the issue. Take in this Tweet from today for example:
Here’s some “chalking” seen at Yale Law School this week:
(This is one reason why my money is on the leaker being a Yale Law grad.)
And this one captures the incoherence of the left perfectly:
And yet somehow this group can’t even bring itself to say the word “women,” because ofd the imperatives of gender-intersectional ideology: