Thursday, May 24, 2012

Record numbers don't understand 'pro-choice'

(image from Dear Baby G)

From Indecision Forever:
According to Gallup, the number of Americans who identify as "pro-choice" has fallen to a record low of 41%, down from 47% last July. The 50% of Americans who regard themselves as "pro-life" is just one percent short of the highest figure polled. However, the number of Americans confused about what these labels mean is at an all-time high
Gallup's longest-running measure of abortion views, established in 1975, asks Americans if abortion should be legal in all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances. Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52% saying this today is similar to the 50% in May 2011. The 25% currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20% in favor of making it illegal in all cases are also similar to last year's findings.

As always, there's a large partisan divide on the self-identification question. Democrats remain pro-choice by a 58 to 34% margin, while Republicans are in favor of terminating first-term Democratic presidencies, but little else. ...

Perhaps this divide can be bridged by clever framing: Since fetuses aren't U.S. citizens and Republicans aren't keen on granting non-citizen "illegals" any rights, maybe pro-choicers can start referring to abortions as fetal deportations. Even the most ardent evangelicals might have to get on board, as they're not sure one becomes an American until he's Born Again, let alone born the first time.

Funny, but weird, too, isn't it?  77% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances, but only 41% consider themselves "pro-choice."

Only 20% of Americans think that abortion should be illegal in all cases, yet half the country claims to be "pro-life." Well, no one is "pro-death," so I suppose the label is appealing. But do we actually understand what we're saying?

I suppose much of this is the divide between "pro-life always" and "pro-life except in cases of rape or incest." I must admit that the later position seems to make no sense at all. If you really think that a fertilized egg or a blastocyst is a baby, then why would you make an exception for rape?

Of course, I don't think that any of it makes much sense. You can believe that a fertilized egg has a 'soul' if you want (a soul which will automatically go to heaven upon death, supposedly - which hardly seems like a bad thing), but we have freedom of religion in this country. That means that you can't force your own religious beliefs on other people.

I can't think of a secular reason for prohibiting all abortions, and considering that women very definitely are people - whatever you think of fetuses - I wouldn't want to tell them what they can or can't do with their own bodies, not without a very good reason!

On the other hand, this doesn't seem to be a case for black-and-white thinking. Birth is an obvious time to decide when a new "person" legally begins, as it has the great advantage of no longer requiring the mother's participation, but human development is gradual. A new-born infant isn't greatly different from the late-term fetus just an hour before.

So I have no problem with certain restrictions on late-term abortions, though I don't want anyone to get between a woman and her doctor. Obviously, no woman is going to want a late-term abortion. So, if a woman and her doctor decide that a late-term abortion is medically necessary (for whatever reason), who am I - who are you - to say otherwise?


Jeff said...

"Funny, but weird, too, isn't it? 77% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances, but only 41% consider themselves "pro-choice."

As Bill Maher once said, "Never underestimate the marketing ability of the Republican Party and the stupidity of the American people."

Jon Dykstra said...

Thought you mind find this of interest, considering your illustration...

WCG said...

I see. So you're drafting women into having children against their will? And what gives you the right to do that, Jon?

Note that you can't be drafted in this way. The government can't use your body to keep a child alive, against your will. You can't be hooked up to a medical device involuntarily, even if a child needs your blood or kidneys to survive.

But you want to give a fetus special rights that a person doesn't have? Indeed, you want to take away rights women have in order to give special rights to fetuses?

Note that we don't have the draft anymore. But either way, before you take away someone's rights, you'd better have a very good reason. Do you have a good reason here? Or do you just think of childbirth as a woman's punishment for having sex?

I think children are more important than that. I think children should be valued, should be wanted - indeed, should be cherished. And I think women are more important than that, too - and fully capable of deciding for themselves whether to have a child or not.