If you go to Pollingreport.com and click on the “abortion” link, you can look at poll results on abortion going back years. You see that several of them break opinion into four categories, such as these from an ABC News/Washington Post poll from July 2011 (responding to the question “Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?”):
- Legal in all cases 19%
- Legal in most cases 35%
- Illegal in most cases 30%
- Illegal in all cases 15%
What this says to me is that 54 percent of those polled are mostly opposed to criminalizing abortion, and 45 percent are mostly in favor of criminalization. A whopping 65 percent are not absolutists one way or another. And note that I’d probably put myself in the 65 percent, because I favor a clear gestational limit on elective abortion, per Roe v. Wade guidelines. That puts me in the “legal in most cases” category.
If we scroll down a little further, we find a Gallup poll from May 5-8, 2011 asking the question, “Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?” According to that poll, the breakdown is:
- Always legal 27%
- Sometimes legal 50%
- Always illegal 22%
Here, both groups of “mostlys,” both mostly legal and mostly illegal, are dumped into a middle ground. Gallup’s polls are, apparently, very popular with Fetus People, because they can be used to argue that all those people in the middle are on their side. However we see in other polls that more than half of the mostlys are “mostly legal,” not “mostly illegal.”
This is the game Douthat is playing in his most recent column, which blames “the media” for the recent Komen for the Cure flap. His basic argument is that nearly all Americans want abortion criminalized, and Komen’s crisis wouldn’t have happened had “the media” not stirred it up.
The real story, of course, is that it wasn’t professional news media that slammed down Komen’s decisions, but vast numbers of people who took to Twitter and Facebook and howled bloody murder about it. Komen’s own affiliate chapters were denouncing the decision, for pity’s sake. One suspects a majority of women who care deeply about women’s health issues are pro-choice, since the Fetus People mostly don’t care if women are dropping dead in the streets as long as they aren’t getting abortions.
DougJarvus Green-Ellis argues that Douthat’s whining is typical of someone who has just been spanked. He also says —
The Chunky one cites some poll numbers about how many Americans identify as pro-life, but thatâ€™s neither here nor there: reproductive rights has been a great issue for Republicans for 30 years even though polls show that the country has been split, tending slightly towards pro-choice, during that time. The reason is that pro-lifers think that if Republicans wink at them and say â€œDred Scottâ€, theyâ€™ll over-rule Roe v. Wade, whereas pro-choicers think that Roe v. Wade will never be overturned (theyâ€™re probably right) and, if they have money, that they or their daughter can go to Mexico or Canada if need be (theyâ€™re probably right here too)…so pro-lifers vote the issue and pro-choicers donâ€™t.
For this reason, conservatives like Douthat think that all talk of reproductive rights helps their cause, no matter what the MSM says. Theyâ€™re wrong. Republicans have found a sweet spot on the issue, where their side is fired up and the other side is complacent. But thatâ€™s only on abortion. As soon as the debate expands to include access to contraceptives or cancer screenings, the terrain shifts, and probably not to a place that is as favorable for them as the current terrain.
My suspicions are that the “sweet spot” will work only as long as the Fetus People don’t actually get their wish. As long as middle-class American women have access to legal abortions, even if they have to drive to another state, people will more or less put up with the status quo and tolerate the shenanigans of the anti-reproductive rights crowd. As it is, a lot of poor women in states like Mississippi must effectively be cut off from legal abortions, although we’re not hearing much about it.
But, IMO, if middle-class women ever thought they’d lose access to legal abortions entirely, the game would be over, and the Fetus People would find themselves swiftly and eternally cast into political purgatory. What was done to Komen was just a preview.