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A Shift on Abortion?

By Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta

Both foes and supporters of legal abortion should sit back and take a broad view before overreacting to Thursday's release of new poll numbers showing a big shift in Americans' attitudes about abortion.

The reason for skepticism (or at least restraint) is simple: other polls, including the Washington Post-ABC News poll, have not picked up such a basic reorientation on this divisive issue.

With their new data, Pew shows a sizable drop from 2008 to 2009 in the percentage of Americans saying abortion should be "legal in all cases" or "legal in most cases," a move that coincides with the election of a pro-choice president. Earlier this year, Gallup caused a stir with a similar finding: that the number of "pro-life" Americans for the first time outnumbered those describing themselves as "pro-choice." (A tilt back the other way two months later picked up little notice.)

Elsewhere the trend is decidedly different, as there has been no fundamental realignment on the question of legal abortion in Post-ABC polls (we ask the identical question). Nor have recent Post polls in Virginia picked up any such change in that key swing state. National polls by the AP, CBS News and the New York Times and Quinnipiac University also show no big increase in opposition to legal abortion.

Continue reading at Behind the Numbers»

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 1, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  The Pollster  
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As always, the phrasing of the poll questions is vital. Most people do not support Taliban-types of groups making policies against all abortions and birth control. After each act of anti-choice terrorism for the last 30 years, the public has been reinforced who they don't want making reproductive health policies.

Unfortunately, they were funded by rogue regime to produce "faith-based" and abstinence-only "education" programs. The magnitude of that failure speaks for itself (one can also ask Bristol Palin). Rev. Bookburn - Radio Volta

Posted by: revbookburn | October 2, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

But it would have to be done BEFORE their first period.

Posted by: JakeD | October 2, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I am.

Posted by: JakeD | October 2, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

There are such things called birth control. If we provide teenagers access to methods of preventing pregnancy and protection against STDs, that would be a step forward. No one is talking about sterilizing anyone, period.

Posted by: em_doyle | October 1, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Apart from the number of abortions going way down, the cost of paying teens not to have sex would be minuscule compared to the $9 billion teen pregnancy costs annually.

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I also agree that $50 million doesn't work. If you paid every teen $1,000 per year NOT to have sex -- a couple billion dollars total -- that would work ; )

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse


Oh, it's a "collective lack of insight" problem? I see now. Well, the "most effective" way to reduce the number of abortions is to permanently sterilize every female child. Then teenagers can have all the sex they (and you) want. Really, it's just A Modest Proposal.

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

$50 million to fund abstinence-only just does not work. That is idiocracy at its finest. No one wants abortion as a solution. It would be far better to prevent it in the first place. But, instead, let's just pretend that teenagers don't have sex. God would not agree with your perspective; in fact, abstinence-only causes the waste of human life, and God would be offended by our collective lack of insight.

Posted by: em_doyle | October 1, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

(Hi, VegasGirl, we are planning a trip to the Bellagio October 23rd ; )

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that's what we should have done with Hitler too. Let's just agree to a reasonable number of Jews and gypsies that can be murdered every year.

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there is a shift on abortion -- however, the pro-life movement needs to give up its push to ban it outright, because all it will do is drive it underground, and make a bad situation worse. Instead, the goal should be to *reduce* the number of abortions.
That is realistic, and something nearly all reasonable people can get on board with.

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | October 1, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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