Where Does America Stand on Abortion?

Abortion is all over the news lately. Sadly, many of these stories give people an incomplete picture of abortion. Before we discuss what Americans believe, we should reflect on what they don’t know.

We must start with Roe v. Wade, which keeps abortion legal in America by blocking enforcement of any significant ban on abortion. Many people falsely believe the abortion bans recently passed in several states have gone into immediate effect. What is needed is a basic civics refresher on how our judicial system works. Roe v. Wade continues to block every significant abortion ban until the U.S. Supreme Court overturns it.

Doe v. Bolton was an abortion case decided by the Supreme Court on the same day as Roe v. Wade. The “health” exception for abortion mentioned so frequently was defined in Doe v. Bolton to include essentially everything. Thus, Roe and Doe together keep abortion legal for every reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy by blocking enforcement of abortion bans.

Few have heard of Doe, and thus most have no idea what Roe really does. Asking people what they think about Roe is about as effective as asking them what they think about admiralty law and the 2008 court case United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins (the shark fins won, by the way).

We continue to see a pattern of a woefully misinformed public. Most people think late-term abortions are performed for actual health reasons, but most are actually for economic or social reasons. Most people think millions of women died before Roe v. Wade from illegal abortions, even though the Washington Post called out Planned Parenthood recently for that data-free claim.

Truthfully, most Americans want to avoid abortion. They don’t understand it.  Most seem uncomfortable with entirely banning it, yet recoil in horror when abortion truths manage to reach them.

A clear picture emerges when polling companies like Gallup break down abortion questions by reasons and pregnancy trimesters. A majority of Americans would ban abortions for social or economic reasons, meaning more than 90% of abortions that occur today would be illegal if the views of the American people controlled our laws. An even larger majority of Americans would ban late-term abortions.

Our petition drive to ban the late-term dismemberment abortion procedure in Michigan will enjoy broad support; the procedure is so horrific that to merely describe it is to oppose it.

Chris Gast
Director of Communication/Education
(616) 532-2300 | RTL.org