What People Think

We live in an increasingly democratic world. In a democracy laws are based on the views of the people. In a democratic republic laws are based on the views of elected leaders. These laws eventually define “ethical correctness” in a society. It is very important to look at the opinions on abortion of both the general public and the public’s leaders, because these beliefs together determine the ethical way to approach the abortion issue.

  • Most important to the ethical side of the abortion debate are the Views of the People. Are we truly being represented correctly?
  • The greatest people and organizations among us have spoken out about the abortion issue. Quotes show us how our greatest leaders think of the unborn.

Opinion Polls

What really matters in the moral question of abortion are the views of the people. Today in American society, many of us are led to believe that abortion is a modern change, and that everyone is accepting it as “morally right.” However, a series of surveys conducted by a variety of nonbiased reasearchers have disputed this belief.

When polls started in the 1960s, there seemed to be overwhelming support against the legalization of abortion. In 1971 and 1972 (just before Roe v. Wade), 33 states individually debated the abortion issue, and every one left it illegal.

Immediately following the ruling, the pro-choice movement gained support. With a Supreme Court decision seeming to back them, people began to believe that a woman’s right to choose is more important than the life of her unborn child. In 1974, the National Review conducted a survey with the question:

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a woman may go to a doctor for an abortion at any time during the first three months of pregnancy. Do you favor or oppose this ruling?

43% of the respondants favored the ruling, while 54% opposed it. (Sindlinger, “Special Hitchhiker on Abortion,” National Review, May 1974) While the margin had dropped, the majority of the nation continued to oppose abortion during the first trimester. Opposition remained very high later for in the pregnancy.

In the late seventies, another huge nationwide poll was conducted. This question asked:

What is your opinion about abortion in general? Do you favor or oppose legal abortions generally?
The response to this poll was also an extremely pro-life result. Only 36% of those polled supported legalized abortion, while 52% opposed it.

On August 18th, 1980, a New York Times/CBS poll asked another strong question. The poll asked, “Do you believe there should be an amendment to the Constitution protecting the life of the unborn child, or shouldn’t there be such an amendment?” A small 34% opposed the ammendment while 50% supported it. Almost a decade after the “Roe vs. Wade” ruling, American citizens showed that they wished to change their Constitution to help the unborn. No ammendment was passed.

In 1989, a wave of polls concerning abortion took place. In a Newsweek poll (July 17, 1989) 74% voted to require parental consent for minors seeking abortion, and 88% supported mandatory counseling for women considering an abortion. In a Los Angeles Times survey, 61% considered abortion immoral, and 57% thought of it as murder.

In the same year, the Boston Globe (March 31), New York Times (January 22), Los Angeles Times (March 19), and Newsweek (April 24) conducted polls asking under what circumstances abortion should remain legal. The average results are:

Life/Health of Mother………………………………….90%
Rape/Incest…………………………………………..75%
Fetal Handicap………………………………………..65%
Can’t Afford………………………………………….40%
Too Many Children……………………………………..40%
Emotional Strain………………………………………35%
To Finish School………………………………………28%
Not Married…………………………………………..25%
As Birth Control………………………………………16%
Sex Selection………………………………………….2%
Only 1-2% of abortions conducted fall under the catagories supported by the majority of the populations. The other 98-99% are all opposed by most Americans.

Into the nineties, nearly 20 years after “Roe vs. Wade,” abortion remained unpopular yet legal. In a 1990 Wall Street Journal poll, 75% still voted to require parental consent before an abortion. In a 1991 Gallup poll, 77% responded that abortion takes a life. In addition, 75% stated that they more often than not disapprove of abortion.

In 1995 yet another unbiased nationwide poll was taken once again asking the question of when abortion should be legal. The results were:

Abortions should be prohibited under all cricumstances 13%
Abortions should be legal only to save the life of the mother 12%
Abortions should be legal only to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape and incest 30%
Don’t Know 3%
Abortions hsould be legal for any reason, but not after the first three months of pregnancy 24%
Abortions should be legal for any reason, but not after the first six months of pregnancy 5%
Abortions should be legal at any time during a woman’s pregnancy and for any reason 12%
Refused to Answer 1%

Yet abortion, including third-trimester and partial birth abortion (supported only by 12%), remains legal in our country. Why aren’t our leaders representing us? A recent poll asked democrats (only democrats), “Should there be a Constitutional Amendment outlawing abortion?” While 46% of democrats nationwide answered yes, only 9% of democratic delegates did.

What are those who have had an abortion saying about this issue? While 39,000 women who have had an abortion have joined the fight for the right to choose an abortion, almost seven times that many, 245,000, are members of the National Right to Life.

So why aren’t the opinions of the public being made law? There is a broad range of beliefs of when abortion should remain legal. Most people designated as “pro-choice” don’t agree with legal abortions after the first trimester and don’t even realize that these abortions are taking place. The overwhelming majority of Americans are more pro-life than our laws.