19 Sep Myth Buster Monday: Are the majority of Americans “pro-choice” or pro-life?
A debate has been raging over a CNN Poll that asked this question: “Do you think abortion should be legal under any circumstances, legal under only certain circumstances or illegal in all circumstances?”
Abortion rights advocates say the poll results confirm that Americans overwhelmingly favor abortion. Pro-life advocates say the same poll shows that the majority of Americans oppose abortion. So which is it? Guess it depends on what you mean when you say you support abortion.
Here are the CNN Poll numbers: 25 percent said abortion should be legal under any circumstances, compared to 21 percent that said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. With a sampling error margin of plus or minus three percentage points, those two groups are in a statistical dead heat.
Now here’s where it starts to turn into a gray area: 53 percent of poll respondents say that abortion should be “legal under only certain circumstances.” Many people consider themselves to be strongly pro-life but will make exceptions in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother; those individuals would end up as part of that 53 percent. The 53 percent number is being widely touted by abortion rights advocates as being part of a 78 percent majority who are “pro-choice” (25% + 53%).
When asked, “Do you think abortion should be legal under any circumstances, legal under only certain circumstances, legal in a few circumstances or illegal in all circumstances? ” CNN found the same 25 percent and 21 percent want either all abortions legal or all illegal. But, breaking down that 53 percent group further, CNN shows just 12 percent want abortions legal in most circumstances while 41 percent want most abortions to be made illegal.
In total, 62 percent of Americans want all or most abortions to be prohibited while only 37 percent of Americans want all or most abortions kept legal.
So when you read a headline like “New CNN Poll Find American Remains Steadfastly Pro-Choice,” you’ll know which side is not telling the whole story.