If the battle over abortion is really about changing the “hearts and minds” of Americans, the pro-life side is losing.
Opinion on the issues isn’t so black-and-white. Some are nominally pro-life, disagreeing with the practice, choosing life themselves, but unwilling to support making it illegal.
Still others are ostensibly pro-life, yet become queasy at late-term abortions.
But if public opinion is any measure, the country is drifting toward the “choice” side of the argument.
A new AP poll finds that support for abortion has reached a two-year high with almost 60 percent supporting it in most or all cases.
The 58 percent is up dramatically from the beginning of the year, when only 51 percent supported abortion. What happened between the two polls that may have changed people’s minds? The shooting at the Colorado Planned Parenthood.
Just over one-third of Americans think abortion laws should be more strict and one-quarter think they should be less strict.
Support for legal abortion jumped from 35 percent to 40 percent among Republicans as well.
Among Democrats, three-quarters support legal abortion, also up from 69 percent.
Count 55-year-old Victor Remdt, of Gurnee, Illinois, among the conservatives who think abortion should be illegal in most cases. He’s adopted, and says he “wouldn’t be here talking” if his birth mother had opted for abortion rather than adoption. Remdt, who’s looking for work as a commercial driver, said he’d like to see abortion laws become more restrictive but adds that he’s not a one-issue voter on the matter.
John Burk, a conservative Republican from Houston, Texas, is among those whose position on abortion is somewhere in the middle. He reasons that banning the procedure would only lead to “back-alley abortions.” But he’s open to restrictions such as parental notification requirements and a ban on late-term abortions.
Burk, a 59-year-old computer programmer, said he tracks his beliefs on the issue to his libertarian leanings and the fact that he’s not religious. He doesn’t see the nation coming to a resolution on the divisive issue any time soon, saying hard-liners on both sides of the question are entrenched and “they’re never going to change.”
Nefertiti Durant, a 45-year-old independent voter from Columbia, Maryland, sees abortion as more complex matter, calling it “kind of a Catch-22.” She thinks a woman should have the right to choose abortion but she’s “not so keen on the fact that just anybody can go and have an abortion.” She worries that young people may not understand the effects of the procedure, and the “deep issues” that go along with it.
Still, she said, abortion is legal and “let’s just leave it at that. … I don’t think it’s a matter of discussion.”
It undoubtedly will be up for discussion, though, in a presidential election year. All of the Republican presidential candidates say they favor restricting abortion rights. The Democratic candidates support broad abortion rights.
About Robert Gehl
Robert Gehl is a college professor in Phoenix, Arizona. He has over 15 years journalism experience, including two Associated Press awards. He lives in Glendale with his wife and two young children.