November 29, 2004

59% Want Roe v. Wade Upheld
— Ace

Trouble for Bush is that 31% want it overturned, and those 31% are his base.

Tough times ahead for the Republican Party. These intraparty differences can be finessed, so long as you're unable to exert your political power to actually change things (or not change them).

Once you've got that power, you've got to make the decision. And Bush and the Republican conservatives in the Senate will soon be drawn into a very tough wedge issue. Alienate 59% of the electorate, or the 31% of your reliable base, responsible for voting you into office?

This is going to be worse than gay marriage was for the left.

Posted by: Ace at 09:59 AM | Comments (29)
Post contains 119 words, total size 1 kb.

1 What's the percentage that oppose partial birth abortions?

What's the percentage that believe that mandatory parental notification is a good thing?

Bush can keep his base happy with just these two issues.

Posted by: Master of None at November 29, 2004 10:03 AM (kGYmZ)

2 "Ducking this issue will take real leadership."

-Mayor Quimby

Posted by: Moonbat_One at November 29, 2004 10:07 AM (BSwh3)

3 Many people don't even know what an overturn of Roe would mean. Many think that overturn would make abortion illegal, rather than handing the subject of legality back to states and, presumably, their elected legislators.

Most people are not opposed to having elected officials, rather than unelected judges, make laws. If this is clearly pointed out to them, many would not oppose reversal of Roe.

Don't ever overestimate the knowledge of the electorate. Many base their views on myths. Those myths are often perpetuated by interest groups, news media, and politicians.

Here's a typical politician's slogan: "I'll oppose judges who will not uphold Roe because I support a woman's right to choose". Notice the the pol never mentions that a "woman's right to choose" could easily be upheld (if Roe were overturned) by a state legislature, simply taking NO action. If a state legislature did not pass any laws in regard to abortion, it would be legal. Something can only be illegal after a law is passed making it illegal.

You will NEVER see a liberal politician, interest group, or MSM point this out.

Posted by: JM Galvin at November 29, 2004 10:20 AM (2syD7)

4 The easy solution is the right solution. Allow each state to establish its own abortion laws through its legislature:

MA,CA,NY - abortion on demand up to 30 days after birth of fetus for any reason or no reason at all paid for in full by tax dollars.

MS,UT,AL - no abortion for any reason ever.

Remaining 44 states are somewhere in between. If you don't like the abortion laws in your state, move or agitate to change the law. If you want an abortion and you live in a state that's too restrictive, add the cost of a Greyhound ticket to the cost of your abortion.

Ain't Federalism grand?

Posted by: David Rothman at November 29, 2004 10:22 AM (Xs1ae)

5 Being one of the 31% who want to see it overturned, I will say that many of those "like me" are not going to settle for a bone tossed our way here or there.

There is a real movement in non-politician Republicans especially here in the South. People are tired of voting for Republicans and expecting that to be a vote for conservatism, but instead getting moderates or conservatives with no guts. Abortion is only part of the issue.

But, as it has already been said, most of the nation is ignorant of the consequences of overturning Roe V. Wade. I would love to see abortion stopped completely since I view it as murder, but I think the more feasible solution for this, gay marriage and basically every other morality type policy debate is to hand it back to the states (as our founders intended it to be.)

States could determine what is best for their citizens and people would be able to move to places that best suit their idea of morality. I think when explained clearly, many, if not most, Americans would favor returning abortion and other issues to the states.

Posted by: BlueDevils at November 29, 2004 10:32 AM (V9inq)

6 As a moderately pro-choice fella, let me echo the sentiments of several of the commenters: Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision, and if most folks had an inkling of what it did and didn't do, they'd support (or at least be indifferent to) it being overturned.

Posted by: Mike at November 29, 2004 10:51 AM (f74q3)

7 I also believe that Roe v Wade was yet another crummy example of judicial activism, and should consequently be overturned.

However, I must respectfully disagree with Bluedevils. I believe that the best approach to moving this issue forward is to build a majority position around abortion that could ultimately result in the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Bluedevils, I believe that maintaining a Republican majority is crucial to the eventual success of such a strategy. I would strongly caution against taking your ball and going home. All that will get you is someone like Bill Clinton, who will actively work against your interests, rather than simply not help you as much as you would like. I think a good analogy is giving up on a game of tug-of-war because you wish some of your teammates were pulling a little bit harder.

A better strategy, IMO, is to build on majority positions such as partial-birth abortion. This practice is clearly barbaric to most Americans, and I would happily let the Democrats defend this indefensible turf if they so choose. If they choose to resist, they will lose power. If they do the smart thing and surrender on the issue, that's a victory. We continue to educate the public on what Roe vs. Wade really means and attempt to build a meaningful majority opinion on it as well. Do not make the mistake that the Dems made with gay marriage.

Building majorities is where it's at. The biggest setbacks occur when conservatives take their ball home and usher in the next Bill Clinton. Personally, I'd rather kick the Dems while they're down. If you care about the abortion issue, try not to become too frustrated with the pace of things, definitely participate in your primaries, and elect pro-life candidates. Concentrate on building that majority position. It is up to us to make the case.

Posted by: at November 29, 2004 11:01 AM (VbQDk)

8 Well. I was going to say that most people have no idea what Roe v. Wade stands for, or worse, think it stands for "legalized abortion."

But apparently most people here do know.

So instead, I'll just say: why the heck stop with Roe v. Wade? It's just the most famous example of the erosion of federalism.

I have an even better (bigger?) idea: let's start following the Constitution again.

Crazy, I know.

Posted by: jb at November 29, 2004 11:04 AM (ZAB7i)

9 This isn't trouble for Bush at all. He never said he would actively seek to overturn RvW and he's under no obligation to try and do so.
Yes, you can say things like

" many of those "like me" are not going to settle for a bone tossed our way here or there... People are tired of voting for Republicans and expecting that to be a vote for conservatism, but instead getting moderates or conservatives with no guts."

But honestly, what are you going to do-- vote Democrat? I think not.

So the President can look at these numbers, interpret them to mean that the majority of the American people prefer the status quo, and pretty much do nothing. I don't see any real negative consequences to him or other Republicans for that approach.

Posted by: dave at November 29, 2004 11:05 AM (GDTYJ)

10 Boy, you are having trouble coming up with good material, otherwise you wouldn't have to repeat one of the hoariest old pieces of warmed over political analysis in history. Maybe if you actually read National Review you might understand why this has been debunked a million times. Some of the comments above go into the details, but I just don't have the time to get into it. Consider yourself de-boomarked.

Posted by: Joshua Chamberlain at November 29, 2004 11:39 AM (kVvQ+)

11 Commenter jb is on the right track. A strong consensus would be required to defederalize all decisions about abortion, and at this time, no such consensus exists.

We might be able to get a Constitutional amendment that defines protected human life -- if that definition didn't ban abortions in the first or second trimester. Sadly, the desire to protect the unborn is not strong enough, even among most persons who call themselves conservatives, to "go all the way."

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at November 29, 2004 11:43 AM (MzH7h)

12 These media polls just ask questions on Roe v. Wade in a general sense with the sentiment "should abortion be illegal in the US", and most people will say no.

Couch the question as "should the federal government or individual states determine abortion law", and I have no doubt that 70/30 split would be in favor of leaving it up to individual states.

You'll never get a poll to ask THAT question, though, as it goes against the media's pre-conceived wisdom, that everyone loves a good abortion.

Posted by: Sean at November 29, 2004 12:32 PM (UHi7p)

13 I doubt if SCOTUS will overturn Roe any time soon. However, it wouldn't surprise me to see them dismantle it piecemeal until little is left. I think Bluedevils is mostly right, except I supsect he meant MO (Missouri) would (mostly) disallow abortions, not MS (Massachusetts).

Roe has become a secular sacrament, but it may become legally irrelevant if Bush appoints reasonably competent Constitutionalists.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at November 29, 2004 12:53 PM (nMT31)

14 Allow me to be the first to say:

Lighten up, Francis.

Posted by: hobgoblin at November 29, 2004 12:54 PM (2da3S)

15 Bacause I don't trust the Times, and because I have reall doubts about the evenhandedness of this poll (sample question: "do you want to see poor minorities die in botched backalley baby killings?"), I'm going to give this poll the respect it deserves.


Something like 60% of the American people want some restrictions on abortion---in other words an overturning of Roe. It all depends on how the question is asked.

Posted by: hobgoblin at November 29, 2004 12:58 PM (2da3S)

16 Ace,

Come on, man. Are you serious? Your commenters are much more in-the-know than you on this one. Abortion is a 50-50 issue ... straight up. Re: the USSC, the issue is in conservatives favor. Let the states decide. If the blue states want to abort babies, let them vote to protect it.

It is what the Constitution contemplated to begin with, and further such a result would mean fewer abortions.

Posted by: Daisy at November 29, 2004 01:12 PM (LpoUM)

17 JM Galvin is right: the populace has no clue about what these decisions stand for, and is susceptible to tricked-up polls like this one. Go down issue by issue (trimester 1, trimester 2, viability, "partial birth", minors, notification, etc.) and you'll see a much different story.

Polls don't matter, anyway. Roe v. Wade is the cancer that's been eating away at law and the respect for law for thirty years, and it must end -- come hell or electoral high water. (I say this as a secular neocon; don't mistake me.)

Posted by: someone at November 29, 2004 02:05 PM (kMRF+)

18 Oh my, the comment above marked as "jb" was actually written by me. It seems that the comment code on the site is not quite right yet. Ah well! I wanted to make one quick correction - my post was in response to "Mike" but I incorrectly phrased my response to "BlueDevils." I am in complete agreement with BlueDevils' federalism analysis, and I remain opposed to Mike's idea of taking his ball home if things don't move quickly enough.

- Beatnik Joe

Posted by: Beatnik Joe at November 29, 2004 02:28 PM (VbQDk)

19 Joshua Chamberlain:

You are exactly right.

I have heard many Republican politicians speak-both in public and private venues. All are against abortion, but I have never heard a one say that he/she would work repeal RvW.

Posted by: Jake at November 29, 2004 02:57 PM (h4tU8)

20 That 59% statistic is probably as genuine as the Dan Rather Bush Papers.

Posted by: Sailor Kenshin at November 29, 2004 03:22 PM (qYZnB)

21 Ace: I respectfully disagree on this becoming a make or break issue for Bush and his "base". I'm part of his "base" and my opinion on RvW is primarily related to judicial activism.

Not to simply parrot Francis Porretto, I have to agree, "Commenter jb is on the right track". Go Beatnik Joe!

Aside from that, I take a pass on Francis' other comments. It's a pure state's rights issue, and it transcends abortion. Bush, or anyone else, can't repeal Roe; the only thing that can is an appeal based on the actual Constitution, heard by competent judges who don't consider themselves psychics or legislators, and I don't see Bush pushing the issue. One or more states, however, might have cases that do so, and if Bush successfully appoints judges who judge, leaving law to legislators, the 31% of his base will end up satisfied, without pissing off the majority.

Or so I think.

Posted by: Patton at November 29, 2004 07:57 PM (cLlFA)

22 "Ah well! I wanted to make one quick correction - my post was in response to "Mike" but I incorrectly phrased my response to "BlueDevils." I am in complete agreement with BlueDevils' federalism analysis, and I remain opposed to Mike's idea of taking his ball home if things don't move quickly enough."

Actually, my post was the one ABOVE the post you disagreed with. For what it's worth, I'm having the same trouble as you are telling who wrote what post.

Posted by: Mike at November 30, 2004 04:00 AM (f74q3)

23 Wow! I think that I'll start signing my messages until the commenting thing is cleared up. Mike, so you must have posted the federalism meesage? Henceforth, you shall be known as "federalism guy." And I just so happen to agree with you on everything. If I'm still wrong about who you are, I will just have to live with my mistake.

- Beatnik Joe

Posted by: at November 30, 2004 07:22 AM (VbQDk)

24 Not that anyone's reading anymore, but here's the scoop on the question and the real numbers

from Volokh

"As you may know, President Bush may have the opportunity to appoint several new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court during his second term. The 1973 Supreme Court ruling called Roe v. Wade made abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal. Do you think President Bush should nominate Supreme Court justices who would uphold the Roe v. Wade decision, or nominate justices who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision?"

But wait — Roe didn't just make abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal. It also made it legal at any time before viability (limiting government regulation to that related to protecting "maternal health"); the Court said viability would be at about six or seven months (though over time, the line has moved up a bit, as the 1992 Casey decision recognized). I suspect that such months-four-to-six abortions would be considerably more controversial than ones in months one through three.

Now I should say the poll is still pretty significant, because it shows broad support for the constitutional protection of first-trimester abortions. But it doesn't show equal support for all aspects of Roe, especially its protection of second-trimester abortions. And while I realize that poll questions have to be kept simple, (1) I suspect that the polltakers shouldn't have oversimplified things this much — to the point of material inaccuracy — and (2) at least they should alert media organizations that the question contains this oversimplification.

And, of course, this is yet another reminder to be highly skeptical of media reports of surveys. Good thing that now lets us check them more closely, though I suspect that no more than a tiny percentage of readers will ever check them this closely.

Incidentally, when will news organizations that post online stories actually start linking to the survey text?

UPDATE: Reader Paul N. points me to another poll, this one also on, done in January 2003:

"Thinking more generally: Do you think abortion should generally be legal or generally illegal during each of the following stages of pregnancy? How about [see below]?" Legal Illegal Depends (volunteered) No Opinion
"In the first three months of pregnancy" 66% 29% 3% 2%
"In the second three months of pregnancy" 25% 68% 4% 3%
"In the last three months of pregnancy" 10% 84% 4% 2%

More evidence, I think, that "would uphold the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision" isn't the same as "would uphold a right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy."

Posted by: hobgoblin at November 30, 2004 03:39 PM (2da3S)

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