A newly released Wall Street Journal/NBC poll claims to have found “record high majority” support for abortion in America, though it limited its respondents to only “four broad options.”
The poll asked a question of respondents that provided these four options:
Which comes closest to your view on abortion: Abortion should always be legal, should be legal most of the time, should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions.
The survey on abortion was part of a larger poll and was conducted among 1,000 adults, 825 registered voters, and 311 Democrat primary voters between June 8-11. The margin of error among adults was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, among registered voters, 3.4 percentage points, and among Democrat primary voters, plus or minus 5.56 percentage points.
According to the survey results, 34 percent of those polled said abortion should always be legal, 22 percent said it should be legal most of the time, 29 percent said the procedure should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, and 12 percent said it should be illegal without exceptions. Among the respondents, three ercent said they were “not sure.”
NBC News said results that showed 34 percent of Americans want abortion to always be legal “represents an all-time high in the poll, a three-point climb from the 31 percent who held that view in March of 2018 and a nine-point jump from the 25 percent that held that view in 2008.”
The news outlet added that, at the other end of the continuum, the 12 percent who said the procedure should be illegal without any exception is an outcome that is “five points higher than where the number was in March of 2018, 7 percent.”
NBC News said its poll shows “solid growth in the number of Americans who say the procedure should be legal or legal most of the time.”
However, others who conduct and analyze abortion polls say failing to provide more nuances or specifics in questions about terminating pregnancy to survey respondents often leads to a misread on the true views of Americans.
Cliff Young, president of Ipsos Public Affairs, said, in explaining his USA Today/Ipsos poll, “Despite the strong emotions that abortion elicits, we find that most Americans are not absolutists on the issue, understanding its many nuances.”
“Indeed, over the last few decades, the primary sticking point has not been abortion yes or no – but under what conditions is abortion acceptable,” he added.
The Ipsos poll found 26 percent of Americans say the procedure should be legal in all cases, and 13 percent said it should be illegal in all cases. The same poll found 45 percent of Americans support fetal heartbeat abortion bans, while 55 percent say they do not.
In a statement sent to Breitbart News, Maureen Ferguson, senior fellow for The Catholic Association, observed the limitations of the WSJ/NBC poll, given what is now known about surveying the issue of abortion.
“Reports about this poll indicate that respondents were limited to a list of four broad options,” Ferguson explained. “Polls that ask about specific policies or stages in pregnancy are able to capture far more of the nuance that characterizes the average person’s views on abortion.”
Ferguson also pointed to the USA Today poll that was released “despite weeks of negative press surrounding heartbeat bills.”
That poll “recently found support for heartbeat policy to be very strong at 45%,” she said. “And when Marist asked about limiting abortion depending on specific stages of fetal development, they found that 60% of Americans identifying as pro-choice would limit abortion to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy.”
Ferguson explained it was important to note that, with electing to end a pregnancy being legal in the United States through all nine months – “because of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton’s expansive definition of ‘health’” of the mother, the WSJ/NBC poll found “only 34% of people line up in support of legal abortion in all cases.”
“In fact, a large majority, 63%, do not support today’s status quo under Roe v. Wade, and want more restrictions on abortion,” she concluded.
The Marist poll, released in January, found 75 percent of Americans say the procedure should be limited to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy. Among those who identify as Republicans, 92 percent want that restriction, as do 78 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats. Perhaps most significantly, that view is shared by 61 percent of those who identify as “pro-choice.”
In addition, the Marist survey found 65 percent of Americans say if the Supreme Court revisits Roe v. Wade, it should either return the issue of the legality of abortion to the states (49 percent) or outlaw the procedure altogether (16 percent). Only 30 percent of those surveyed would prefer that the Supreme Court rule in favor of unrestricted abortion.