What do the purple people want in PRRI’s abortion poll?

This is the Public Religion Research Institute’s Graphic of the Week:

“In an exceedingly complex debate over abortion,” PRRI asks, “what do the labels ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ actually mean to average Americans?”

That’s not addressed in this graphic, but their data on “overlapping identities” points toward one possibility.

There’s a lot of purple in that graphic — the portion of each graph representing those who identify as both “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” White evangelicals and Catholics, unsurprisingly have the largest share of adherents who identify exclusively as pro-life. My guess is that this share — those who refuse any association with the identifier pro-choice — reflects those who want to see abortion criminalized, those who view abortion as immoral and also (or therefore) want to see it made illegal.

But more than half of Catholics and more than a third of white evangelicals identify as both pro-life and pro-choice. My guess — and this is only a guess — is that this suggests a moral opposition to abortion along with a perhaps-reluctant acknowledgement that it nonetheless ought to remain a legal option. My guess is that these purple people would be approximately in favor of the old Clinton formula: safe, legal and rare — perhaps with an emphasis on the “rare.” Some might prefer to pursue making abortion more rare by introducing an increasing number of legal hurdles, obstacles and hindrances, but others may prefer to pursue making abortion more rare by empowering women to have a wider menu of viable, meaningful choices (living wages, health care, day care, etc.).

Again, I’m just guessing — the graphic doesn’t actually tell us anything about what the purple people want or what it means, to them, to choose both of those identifiers of pro-life and pro-choice. It may only indicate that many Americans find these identifiers both to be inadequate on their own — as Taja Lindley recently wrote, the polarizing politics of abortion present a stark binary view that doesn’t capture many people’s actual experience:

In today’s binary political system, however, abortion has become oversimplified. Although fraught with social, economic, cultural, and political meaning, abortion has been reduced to a singular and isolated issue in the political arena. And yet, just below the surface of political silencing, those of us whose experiences with abortion do not fit neatly into didactic sound-bites and talking points for pundits and policymakers in their public debates about our bodies, the waters of human experience still run deep.

But if my guess above is correct — if the “pro-life only” category represents those who want to see abortion outlawed, while the purple people lean toward safe, legal and rare — then this graphic shows us something interesting: Earlier surveys have found that about a third of white evangelicals want abortion to be legally available in their communities. Yet this survey finds 48 percent of white evangelicals identifying themselves as pro-choice. This may indicate that allowing respondents to qualify their answers — to say they are pro-choice but also pro-life — resulted in a greater number of white evangelicals being willing to state that they do not wish to see abortion criminalized. And if my guess is correct about what this graphic is showing us, then it would suggest that a greater number of white evangelicals wish to see abortion remain a legal option than wish to see it banned completely.

  • The_L1985

     And this sort of Christian we’re referring to is also uncomfortable with body contact, regardless of the respective genders.

  • Jim Roberts

    Well, it’s not in contact with brand new human waste. Depending on how clean the loo in question is kept, that water can, in fact, be decently dirty. I mean, not always and not routinely, necessarily.

  • other lori

    I think it’s overly idealistic to imagine that the pro-choice movement has been as dedicated and serious about addressing the ability of women to have children  as it has about making sure that affluent white women never have to bear a child they don’t want. And, it’s been really successful: unplanned pregnancies are far less common among that group, and they are generally able to access the reproductive care they want and need.

    Sure, the pro-life movement (I don’t like the term, either) is hugely racist, but we can’t pretend that the feminist and pro-choice movements don’t have their own problems with racism. Ignoring the experiences of poor women and women of color has long been a problem with feminism, and the pro-choice movement has certainly not escaped that. Simply the fact that it’s been framed as “pro-choice”–and nearly all about abortion–rather than “reproductive justice” is telling. There seem to be many pro-choicers who are very concerned about making sure that they never have to have or continue an unplanned pregnancy (which is totally understandable and fine) but not concerned or even aware of the other side of the coin, that there are women in our society for whom having a child is the choice that is inaccessible for them.

    I’ve just had too many discussions with pro-choicers arguing for why China’s one-child policy is really an understandable, not-so-bad idea, or why cutting off welfare benefits for women after x number of children to discourage them from breeding is a good idea, to really believe that the pro-choice movement is just as dedicated to making sure women can have children as it is to making sure they don’t have to.

  • The_L1985

     “I’ve just had too many discussions with pro-choicers arguing for why
    China’s one-child policy is really an understandable, not-so-bad idea,
    or why cutting off welfare benefits for women after x number of children
    to discourage them from breeding is a good idea”

    Dear gods…you mean that kind of person actually exists, and isn’t just a straw man?  I’d always been hoping it was just a straw man.

  • Lori

    The internet: proving there are awful people on both sides of every issue since the mid-1990s.   

    Yes, both sides do it. One wants to control your body, even if it kills you. The other side says stuff that hurts some people’s feelings. Same, same.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You don’t see how a woman could be pressured by her surrounding to say “yes, I thought about it”, if neutral counseling was not mandatory?
    You don’t see how nobody actually says ‘yes I want an abortion’ without having thought about it BEFORE getting to the point at which counseling re abortion could possibly be mandated?

  • EllieMurasaki

    by making it mandatory for everybody, the onus is not on the woman to get access to counseling – which currently is not available everywhere, no matter what you advocate – but on the state to provide it

    I see you clearly explaining why counseling availability should be mandatory. Not a word about why people considering abortion should be compelled to go.

  • JustoneK

    No, some of those I’ve heard in person too.  The world is a strange and mysterious place, which is why I never leave the house.

  • Lori

     

    and pro-choicers who consider a baby of 1 day before birth “just
    tissue” that can be aborted without any qualms or consideration at all -
    are appalling to any half-way rational and emphatic person?   

    These people do not exist. You know who actually exists? People who believe that decisions about pregnancy should always be up to the pregnant woman and her doctor and only the woman pregnant woman and her doctor.

    As a practical matter, even if a woman did for some reason decide that she wanted to abort a healthy fetus 1 day before birth she would be unable to find a doctor to perform the procedure. There are literally only 4 doctors in the entire US who currently perform 3rd trimester abortions for any reason.

    As long as you continue to traffic in the fiction of terrible people wanting to abort healthy fetuses in the 3rd trimester for trivial reasons you’re pretty much disqualifying
    yourself from consideration as a half-way rational and empathetic person.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The law calls it unborn child because that’s what it is.

    There is no such thing as an unborn child. If it is a child, ze has been born. If it is unborn, it is a zygote or embryo or fetus; yes, there should be a word encompassing that which a pregnant person is pregnant with regardless of the stage of pregnancy, but ‘unborn child’ cannot be it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I figured out what Munchner Kindl ought to support, if mandatory counseling before the decision to abort or not to abort is a thing Munchner Kindl wants to support.

    I am accustomed to terming this thing ‘comprehensive sex education’.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Few people want to be labeled as “anti  life,”

    http://dorkforty.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/jg-jones-anti-life.jpg

  • P J Evans

     Usually the tank is rust-stained inside because plumbing, but it really is just water – although some people may have replumbed so it’s recycled or ‘gray’ water, in which case you should wash your hands.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sounds like the explanation that William Saletan at Slate offers the rape and incest exceptions. He argues that these aren’t really about compromising with pro-choicers, but with soothing the consciences of pro-lifers bothered by making women give birth.

    Some consciences, if they’re only concerned with whether a pregnancy is forced when the sex leading to the pregnancy was consensual.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    where they explained very earnestly how kissing means “Exchange of flora and fauna of the mouth”

    And occasionally gum.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Written like someone who’s never caught hell for neglecting to get an expectant mother a mother’s day card.

  • The_L1985

     She has expressed strong surprise at how bad sex-ed is in the U.S., and I had to flat-out tell her earlier in this comment thread that a national standard of comprehensive sex-ed would never pass.

  • Lori

    Written like someone who’s never caught hell for neglecting to get an expectant mother a mother’s day card.

    Someone may throw hell at you for that, but you are under no obligation to catch it. Just let that stupid shit fall on the ground.

    More seriously, I realize that people we love can really lay on the guilt and I don’t mean to minimize the effect. I know that sometimes there’s nothing for it but to go through the motions. But seriously there is not one damn reason for you ever feel even the slightest bit bad for not buying a mother’s day card for a person who has not yet given birth. Not even if you’re the person who got her pregnant. If it’s some sort of hormonal wackiness then, okay because one can’t really control how and when that hits. Otherwise, just no.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

    I feel like regulations like that are more commonly used to drive abortion clinics out of business. Having to have a trained psychologist on the premises is an additional expense — a huge one, if you have to have one on hand for every single procedure. 

    It may be a good idea despite that but I think before any governmental body adopts it as a rule they should have a legitimate fact-finding that this would actually improve outcomes for women seeking abortions. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cause I can see the medical/liability necessity to have a referral and/or have a brief “This is what’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do, this is what most patients felt, physically, this is a normal range of pain, if you see this, this or this, call the office immediately, here’s a few pamphlets going into more detail with some extra resources, do you have any questions?” sorta thing.

    I wouldn’t call that ‘counseling’. I’d call that ‘providing necessary information’, which is a thing the doctor doing a medical procedure must either do or ensure is done before the procedure begins, in order to be certain that the consent to the procedure is informed consent. What I call ‘counseling’ involves the participation of both patient and counselor and generally involves prying into what the patient is thinking and feeling. (‘Prying’ because if we’re mandating it, and sometimes if it’s not mandated, it’s an invasion of privacy.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     These reports of abstainance-only classes are very weird to me. Now, I went to school in a “comprehensive sex ed” state, so we had far more than a bunch of twelve year olds were prepared to process about condoms (back then, the rule was “always use spermicidal ones”), The Sponge,  contraceptive foam, IUDs, contraceptive film, and diaphragms, and we learned the symptoms of STDs in women (For boys, the gist of it was “We don’t need to detail the symptopms of STDs in men, because you will know it if you get one”), but there was never any suggestion that marriage was especially good or that sex therewithin might be any better than the horrors sex would be before marriage. It was just “There is no good reason anyone would ever want to have sex. Especially with the likes of you little cretins.”

  • aunursa

    I sure as hell haven’t met a pregnant woman who considered herself a mother before the baby was born, outside of a few religious nuts.

    I think there are many pregnant women who consider themselves moms (or at least “expectant mothers”) before the baby is born.  I see many references on pregnancy and new parent sites to the pregnant woman as “mom” and her partner as “dad” – by the webmasters and the women themselves.  Many refer to their “baby” and identify the fetus by the name they have chosen.

    Just Mommies
    Baby and Bump forums
    Baby Center pregnancy boards
    Expectant Mother Parking Signs

  • The_L1985

     Your description of sex-ed that was actually sex-ed is equally weird to me.  And wonderful.  Like some beautiful dream of what schools ought to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-McDonough/100001260964707 Bill McDonough

     I think there are many pregnant women who consider themselves moms (or
    at least “expectant mothers”) before the baby is born.  I see many
    references on pregnancy and new parent sites to the pregnant woman
    as “mom” and her partner as “dad” – by the webmasters and the women
    themselves.  Many refer to their “baby” and identify the fetus by the
    name they have chosen.

    And there’s good reason for that: going from ‘not mom’ to ‘mom’ is a psychological paradigm shift. By doing it over time, and giving themselves that adjustment before the actual physical demands of ‘there is a newborn in the house’ add in on top of it, they’re making the shift far less burdensome.

    Think of it as putting their foot on the clutch when changing mental gears. A little lead time for huge changes in outlook never hurts.

  • Lori

    I see you clearly explaining why counseling availability should be
    mandatory. Not a word about why people considering abortion should be
    compelled to go.  

    Exactly. If the goal is to compel the state to make counseling available then compel the state to make counseling available. Everything she’s said on this issue makes it pretty clear that’s not actually the point. This is not exactly a surprise since I’ve never seen any legally mandated pre-aboriton counseling that wasn’t designed simply to give anti-choice views a captive audience.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So I now see. Holy full inbox, Batman.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I don’t disagree with anything that you say, because there are still plenty of pro-choice supporters that feel that way, but that is still an awfully big brush you’re painting with IMO.  I find that the advocates I speak with don’t believe that pro-choice is so narrowly defined, and those are the people who are trying to expand the definition of pro-choice to a more expansive term.

    And I will say that the constant need to police our own advocates about whether we are properly advocating can feel a hindrance to the reproductive rights movement, our tendency to do that is a GOOD THING overall, because the fact that no discussion on “abortion in the US” without also making sure we are discussing the full scope of reproductive rights, like access to birth control AND prenatal care, paternal leave, in addition to abortion is how we will expand movement beyond the old definitions to a more inclusive definition a solid majority of the voting public supports. 

    Eat the purple people, pretty much. 

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

     Me, too, but that I live in what is now a abstinence state, for the most part, so it just makes me feel old.

    I got age appropriate sex ed three times in school, but the high school class sucked, started getting infected with abstinence stuff like that, and the basketball coach that taught it had a very nasty sex negative attitude about it.  Guess how many in my class got pregnant/got someone pregnant? 

  • LL

    It’s amusing that our friend from Germany thinks the “counseling” is mandated out of concern for the women involved. I can’t decide whether that’s charmingly naive or indefensibly dumb.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ask anyone (in the US; Germany might be different, I don’t know) why they support mandated counseling, and they’ll tell you: it IS out of concern for the women! The ones who can’t actually be termed ‘women’, even ‘young women’, till a decade and a half after the counseling session in question, who’ll never get the chance to be so termed if not for the counseling session in question!

    Y’know, the ones who don’t exist yet, and (seeing as they’re nonexistent) are not actually entitled to exist.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *shudder* needles.

    I almost fainted the last time I needed blood drawn.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, me neither. I frankly consider it an obscene exaggeration that should be punishable in some way or form for “pro-lifers” to circulate the idea that a woman, in her late stages of pregnancy would casually go “Oh well! La-di-da!” and abort on a total lark.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There are plenty legitimate reasons in the present-day to criticize Germany – among them its habit of imposing an almost paranoid anti-inflation stance on the ECB in a time when actually it needs to be trying to help push some inflation into the system.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Canadian law is silent on the subject, but provincial governments have played games with making abortion de facto unavailable by screwing around with funding of clinics. (See here)

    In addition, British Columbia has a law restricting protesting outside of clinics.

  • Baby_Raptor

    So, if I’m understanding you right, the fact that the fetus (and other stages) cannot speak for itself means that we should automatically afford it a special set of rights? 

    What about a person in a car wreck, who is now comatose and in need of a transplant? They can’t speak for themselves. Should the government now start stepping in and forcing compatible donors to donate whatever in order to keep these people alive? 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     There are a possibly equal number who simply don’t think of the women involved at all. The women are at best thought of as being sort of tangentially related to the issue.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I suspect the purple regions there have a lot to do with the fact that even amoung the viehemently pro-choice, I know a lot of people who every single time feel the need to qualify it with “WHat I really think is that it is terrible that a woman would ever be in a position where she feels she needs one and what we should really be doing is to try to minimize that happening,” as if the default assumption is that someone identifying as “pro-choice” actually likes abortion and wants to encourage them.

    But I suspect a lot of it is also the “But what about the sluts?” contingent, who agree that abortion should be available safely and on-demand, but still entertain the fantasy that there are significant numbers of women who use abortion as a form of birth control, or who “aren’t responsible” and need to “learn to take responsibility” and “live with the consequences”.

  • Isabel C.

    Good point there.  I was sort of at the end of my rope.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I just find the whole “Married sex is totes awesomesause yo” aspect of AO to be very alien to me because it seems like one small beacon of sex-positivity (and the rest of AO is so sex-silent as to make its sex-negativity all implied), whereas my experience of non-AO was that it was very explicitly sex-negative.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I personally wanna know how two people who’ve lived up to abstinence-only standards are supposed to go from the night before the wedding, no sexual experiences with the possible exception of some fully-clothed kissing and maybe cuddling (certainly no porn consumption or solo sex and absolutely no partnered sex, and depending on what they’ve heard, possibly no idea of what goes where), to the wedding night, experts at the art of partnered sex. There is a logical step or ten missing here.

    I am not encouraging sex before marriage for people who don’t want to have sex before marriage, and of course it’s possible for two virgins to have sex and enjoy it. But with sex, like with all activities that take skill, practice makes improvement.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It seems unlikely, but my high school reunion included a few people who, unless I am to call them liars, successfully rode the abstainance train all the way to marriageville and would not shut the fuck up about how fantastic married sex was.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Married sex’ or ‘wedding night’? Because I suspect the former is better than the latter, especially so for people who hadn’t had any sex before the wedding night.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Honestly, y’know, with all the adrenaline and anticipation and thirty minutes of undressing, you could totally fall asleep about fifteen seconds in and still think it was the best sex of your life.

    ETA: Or not. Everyone’s different.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Heh. True.

  • glendanowakowsk

    I learned something from your post.  Thanks, Rowen!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    the polarizing politics of abortion present a stark binary view that doesn’t capture many people’s actual experience

    Dunno if you read 300 comments in, but just so you know Fred–you’re part of this.

  • Lori

     

    It seems unlikely, but my high school reunion included a few people who,
    unless I am to call them liars, successfully rode the abstainance train
    all the way to marriageville and would not shut the fuck up about how fantastic married sex was.   

    I file this in the same place as blogs by ostentatiously Christian folks who post all the time about “my hot wife” or “my hot husband”—-there’s often a bit of a good impulse there, but it’s mostly cultural performance.

  • Lori

    Dunno if you read 300 comments in, but just so you know Fred–you’re part of this.  

    Here’s the thing, PRRI poll results notwithstanding, the simple fact is that when it comes to legal, safe abortion the choice is pretty binary. We have it, or we’re condemning women to die. Whatever else any purple person thinks or feels about the issue, that’s the bottom line.

  • Dan Audy

    I don’t think that mandatory counselling before certain medical procedures which may have physical or emotional side effects that are not immediately obvious.  When I went for genetic testing to see if I was a Cystic Fibrosis carrier I was required to do a mandatory counselling session to make sure I understood how the testing worked, how genetic transfer worked if I was a carrier, and what sort of emotional responses were common to people’s discovery that they were and weren’t carriers.  I know that the US has a history of abusing ‘counselling’ to manipulate people on behalf of the forced birth contingent but there is nothing fundamentally flawed with legitimate, fact based counselling for ensuring people have full information and preparation before making a life altering decision.

  • banancat

     And even here you referred to her as “expectant mother”, which is an accurate term.  I’ve never known a pregnant woman to go just by “mother” before the child is born.


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