Monday, June 20, 2011

America is Pro-Life...and Pro-Unplanned Pregnancy?

LifeNews has a wonderful way with statistics. They can take data that shows 76% of Americans support legal abortion, 50% of Americans favor the current legal status of abortion, and come back with a headline that says AMERICA IS PRO-LIFE.

How do they do this? Well, it's all based on a Gallup poll that can be viewed directly here. Originally Gallup asked people to support 1 of 3 categories; abortion legal in any circumstances, abortion legal in some, and abortion legal in none. When split this way, 27% favored legal in all, 49% favored legal in some, and 22% favored legal in none. So only 22% were for banning abortion.

Gallup then fixed the stats by splitting the middle category into those who wanted abortion legal in most circumstances, and those who wanted it to be legal in only a few. In this way they got 10% of voters wanting legal abortion "under most circumstances," and 39% wanting it to be legal in "only a few circumstances." So now they can say that 39% + 22% = 63% of Americans support no or severely limited abortion.

Does this mean America really is Pro-Life? Well, you can split the stats anyway you want. You can say that only 22% of Americans favor banning abortion completely. 50% of Americans DO want to allow abortion in "some circumstances." And this is what we already allow (our circumstance being abortions up until the third trimester.) So half the country wants NO change to our abortion policy.

Even when looking only at the extreme views, MORE (27%) Americans favor always allowing abortion rather than never allowing abortion (22%). So any way you cut it, most Americans don't favor a change to our abortion policy. But Gallup biased the results by splitting up the middle group. The lesson: If you split up the majority of a group, you can transform their consensus into a series of conflicting categories, hiding the true majority opinion.

So most Americans want to allow abortion under some circumstances. But most Americans also support severely limited abortion. Can all of this be true while America is still Pro-Life? Rest assured, it can all be true. It's just that we have to really think about what "Pro-Life" means.

Remember, we can hide the true majority opinion if we split up a group into conflicting categories. In America, we have "Pro-Choice" and "Pro-Life" categories. Both positive sounding terms. But they're not really that clear and distinct, because pro-choice people could also be pro-life in many circumstances. The difference is that pro-life on a political level means everyone has to be pro-life, all the time, or be criminally responsible and morally wrong. So really, we might rename the Pro-Life position "Pro-Forced Birth" or "Pro-Unplanned Pregnancy."

I wonder how THAT would bias the statistics? If Pro-Life means abortion is NEVER legal, under any circumstances, that would mean only 22% of America supports it (according to this poll). America is not THIS kind of pro-life. But if we allow pro-life to mean allowing abortion only under a few circumstances, without defining exactly WHAT those circumstances are, it's much easier to include the majority of Americans as pro-life.

So it seems no one really wants to have abortions, but most people feel it should be allowable in certain circumstances. There is our general consensus. Now if we could just leave the law to allow for that, American could move on from this whole issue.


  1. Politicians are pretty great at twisting what the public demands are into what they are willing to provide decorated with a deceiving little red bow, streamers and sparkles and all...

  2. Yes. My favorite new name for Pro-Life is "Pro-Unwanted-Children," which is short for "Pro-Punishing-Women-For-Having-Sex-By-Forcing-Them-To-Carry-Every-Wayward-Sperm-To-Term-Thereby-Creating-Unwanted-Children."