Bauer Lies About Abortion Poll

Gary Bauer, like many wingnuts, is completely distorting the meaning of a recent Gallup poll on the subject of abortion. He writes:

The latest Gallup poll on abortion has some really encouraging news: The number of Americans identifying as “pro-choice” has fallen to a record low of 41%. Meanwhile 51% of Americans describe themselves as “pro-life.” Even these numbers are somewhat misleading.

When asked about the legality or availability of abortion, only 25% took the radical view that abortion should be legal “under any circumstance.” An overwhelming majority — 72% — felt abortion should either be limited or “illegal in all circumstances.”

He has it reversed. 25% said it should be legal under any circumstance, but even less — 20% — said it should be illegal in all circumstances. 52% said it should be legal under some circumstances, which is actually higher than the result of the same poll in 2011. The religious right and the media are making a big deal out of the fact that the poll says 51% identify themselves as “pro-life” while only 41% identify as “pro-choice.” But that’s just a label that doesn’t necessarily indicate an actual position on abortion.

That 52% that thinks abortion should be legal under some circumstances undoubtedly includes a whole range of positions, some of which we would obviously label as pro-choice and some we would label as anti-choice. Someone who believes that abortion should be legal only when it is to save the life of the mother would qualify as someone who thinks it should be legal under “some circumstances,” yet we would certainly not call that person pro-choice. But it would also involve people who think abortion should be legal for any reason until the third trimester, and we certainly would not call that person “pro-life.”

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  • Gregory in Seattle

    “Bauer lies” is redundant, and has become so axiomatic that it is hardly newsworthy anymore.

  • shallit

    It also show the clever strategy of labeling a position as “pro-life”. Who wants to be labeled as “anti-life”. The correct position name is “anti-abortion”; we shouldn’t allow the spin doctors to use a phony name to influence the debate.

  • dan4

    I wonder if Bauer is Catholic, which would make his touting of the poll even sillier. The reason for this is that the 20% position (abortion illegal under any circumances) is also the aforementioned religion’s position.

  • D. C. Sessions

    As usual, the questions suck. I suspect that if they were more explicit on “never” and “always” they might have gotten a different result.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The correct position name is “anti-abortion”

    And conversely “anti-anti-abortion” — but that’s marketing for you.

  • tbp1

    Who was it that coined the term “pro coat hanger?”. I’ve always liked that one, along with “compulsory childbirth movement.”

  • yoav

    The correct position name is “anti-abortion”

    I got into the habit of calling them pro-birth because that’s all they care about. The same people who rhapsodize about the precious, precious unborn babies are often the same who see no problem with the same child dying from a preventable disease once they are born because their parents can’t afford health insurance.

  • ImaginesABeach

    I consider myself pro-life.

    I believe it is a pro-life position to want all people, from the moment of birth, to have access to adequate food, shelter, healthcare and safety.

    I believe it is a pro-life position to want all people, from the moment of birth, to be treated with dignity, to be safe in their homes and in the community and to have their bodily autonomy respected.

    I believe it is a pro-life position to want all women to have the right to decide what to do with their lives and their bodies even if they become pregnant.

  • abb3w

    There’s also the possibility of the apparent shift coming in part from the poll sample being a jellybean.

    Looking at the GSS, there doesn’t seem to be signs of long-term shifts in attitudes having been going on. Abortion attitudes have held pretty steady wanting some restrictions, but most wanting to allow it at least some cases. There’s a bit of a bump in attitudes in post-Roe cohorts, which I suspect is due to the massive uptick in pro-life propoganda after Roe.

    Bauer’s just trying to get a few more lemmings with PR spin. The abortion front in politics for the culture wars doesn’t look to be rolling up any time soon — in either direction.

  • Tualha

    With respect to shallit, I believe “anti-women’s rights” would be more accurate.

  • stubby

    “Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.”

    Of course it is.

  • John Fugelsang debunked this last week. I don’t know where the original is, but you can view it at this blog:

    And that is not a goddamned BAUER!

  • cactuswren

    My preferred term for people who want abortion to be illegal is “pro-illegal-abortion”.