A recent poll revealed that the majority of Americans (78% to be exact) believe that abortion should be legal. Before you get all giddy, like I did when I first heard about the poll results, that 78% statistic needs to be broken down based upon when Americans believe abortion should be legal. According to the CNN poll:
25% – abortion should be legal under any circumstances
12% – abortion should be legal in most circumstances
41% – abortion should be legal in a few circumstances
21% – abortion should be illegal in all circumstances
Even when you look at the numbers broken out like this, it’s reassuring to see that only 21% of Americans believe that abortion should be completely illegal. True, I wish that there were more of us in the “legal under any circumstance” camp – but we need to take a deep breath and try to remember that the antis do not have us outnumbered.
Part of the challenge for the pro-choice community is that many pro-choice people don’t speak up about their beliefs. And who can blame them? It’s difficult to voice your opinion when people on the anti-choice side of the debate yell, hold up grizzly posters, and spew utter nonsense. It isn’t a conversation that’s even worth engaging, because at the end of the day, no one is going to change their opinion about anything.
I’m not that surprised about the 78% statistic, though. When I was a clinic escort, I frequently had women swear to me that they were “pro-life” as they entered the clinic – but they just couldn’t continue their pregnancy. I always assured them that it didn’t matter what they believed, they were welcome at the clinic. If you take time to unravel the 78% statistic, I would be willing to bet that many of the people who spoke the CNN pollsters were some of these same women – they’re part of that 41% group who believes that abortion should be legal when it comes to their own uterus.
There’s bound to be some mathematical mumbo jumbo that I’m missing – it’s been a few years since I took a stats class. But even with a margin of error, or whatever you call it, there’s something very straightforward about the numbers – the people who shout the loudest are not the ones who are on the right side of public opinion.