What Americans Think Of Abortion

Abortion Opinion

Leonardt examines public opinion:

[A]bortion is one [issue] in which selective readings of the polls can seem to prove opposite conclusions. After writing about abortion and public opinion in Sunday’s Times – arguing that the issue does not benefit Democrats as much as other high-profile subjects, like immigration, guns, taxes and same-sex marriage – I wanted to dig more deeply into the polls and their trend lines. For all the assertions that advocates make about public opinion, I think that a few consistent messages emerge.

The main one is that most Americans support abortion access with some significant restrictions.

If you were going to craft a law based strictly on public opinion, it would permit abortion in the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest or threats to the mother’s health. The law, however, would substantially restrict abortion after the first trimester in many other cases.

Intriguingly, such a policy would be similar to the laws in several European countries, like France, where abortions are widely available in the first trimester and restricted afterward. It would also be consistent with much of Roe v Wade.

And it would almost certainly have become the law in most states has the Supreme Court not fucked it up. On the brighter side, Razib Khan notes that we are learning to detect fetal abnormalities earlier and earlier:

Whole genome sequencing of 2nd trimester fetuses is now possible, and it seems very likely that in the next few years they’ll move all the way to the 1st trimester. At that point the genetic analysis of 1st trimester fetuses will be routinized and be a simple consumption good. The ultimate question is what are we going to do with all that information? This is not hypothetical, speculative, or blue sky. It’s almost a reality.

Anything that might avoid the excruciating decisions faced by many Dish readers is a good thing. For the best thing I’ve ever read on late-term abortion, check out the Dish’s “It’s So Personal” series. You won’t think about this entirely in the same way again.