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Posted at 3:44 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Huckabee, Portman and the morality of single mothers

By Peyton M. Craighill

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stepped into the culture wars Friday when he commented on Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman's plans to have a child out of wedlock, recalling the debate between Vice President Dan Quayle and fictional character Murphy Brown 19 years ago.

Beyond the social or political motivations for taking on this debate, we're interested in what the public thinks of single motherhood. The Gallup poll asked about this issue last spring among a variety of moral issues.

They found 54 percent saying that "having a baby outside of marriage" is morally acceptable and 40 percent morally wrong. In relation to other moral issues tested by Gallup, single parenthood ranks in the middle - eighth out of 16 items on their acceptability scale. Numerically it ranks just below sex between unmarried men and women (59 percent morally acceptable) and just above "gay or lesbian relations" (52 percent morally acceptable).

Huckabee's position is not out of step with his base. Fewer than half of Republicans - 41 percent - said that having a baby out of marriage is morally acceptable. But his statements may not appeal to many Democrats or independents (or presumably Portman fans). Fully 61 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents said this is morally acceptable.

The Gallup data speak to another storyline in the morality play Friday. Brandon Davies, a star collegiate basketball player for nationally ranked Bringham Young University, was kicked off his team because he admitted to having premarital sex with his girlfriend. BYU's Honor Code forbids this, but 59 percent of the public believes premarital sex is morally acceptable.

See the full Gallup list for the ranking of virtues and vices.

Percent who say each is morally acceptable or morally wrong:

Gallup poll, May 3-6, 2010

Morally acceptable

Morally wrong




The death penalty






Buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur



Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos



Medical testing on animals



Sex between an unmarried man and women



Having a baby outside marriage



Gay or lesbian relations



Doctor assisted suicide






Cloning animals






Cloning humans



Polygamy, when one husband has more than one wife at the same time



Married men and women having an affair



By Peyton M. Craighill  | March 4, 2011; 3:44 PM ET
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Unwed mothers are filling the prisons with their spawn.

Posted by: johntu | March 5, 2011 1:58 AM | Report abuse

They think they are a blessing if they are white. If they are minorities then they are shiftless and lazy and having babies just so they can live off the government. They are blamed for all the problems and crime in this country if they are black. If they are white they are featured in movies, MTV's 16 and Pregnant and on Dancing with the Stars.

Posted by: catmomtx | March 5, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I wish Gallup had asked whether these actions are morally acceptable or not:

1. Ending the Women's Infants' Children's (WIC) food support program for pregnant women and small children to help finance tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of the nation

2. Trying to ban abortion and wipe out contraceptive access via Planned Parenthood while taking the food out of the mouths of pregnant women and small children. Republicans, I'm talking to you.

Posted by: ankhorite | March 5, 2011 9:45 PM | Report abuse

It sounds as if Mike Huckabee prefers that poor pregnant women get an abortion and that rich pregnant women like Natalie Portman should, also, because they're in the public eye and could influence other single pregnant women not to get an abortion.

The poll should, also, have asked these questions: Is it morally acceptable to allow a pregnant woman to die whose life would be saved if she had an abortion? Is it morally acceptable for legislators to pass laws that interfere with the doctor/patient relationship between women and their doctors regarding women's reproductive health care? Is it morally acceptable to force poor women to give birth to babies that will die of starvation? Is it morally acceptable for the government to force poor women to give birth then not provide food, clothing, shelter and health care for the baby and mother?

Posted by: BettyW1 | March 6, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Morality is subjective with most moralist taking exception with the sin they are not committing while being understanding of the sin they are. The most moral position is to not judge anyone. That job is taken.

Posted by: GabsDaD | March 7, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

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