In a recent article in the Atlantic, Jerusalem Demsas asks an important question: “Now that the Supreme Court seems poised to reverse itself on Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights advocates and anti-abortion advocates are both claiming the mantle of popularity. Who’s right?”
Spoiler alert: we are.
Demsas, who is pro-abortion, takes a while to get there and reaches her truthful conclusion reluctantly. Most Americans shy away from blanket permissions and bans, preferring a policy that only allows abortion “under certain circumstances.” Specifically, “Americans are sympathetic to women seeking abortions if they are victims of rape or incest, if they have a serious health concern, or if the baby will be born with a disability. They are significantly less likely to approve of abortion in cases of economic hardship or personal preference.” Support for such abortions hovers below 50%, according to multi-year polling Demas cites from the University of Chicago.
The overwhelming majority of abortions fall in the unpopular categories. Financial concerns account for nearly three quarters of abortions, according to Guttmacher Institute; personal reasons such as “having a baby would dramatically change my life” are also very common. The so-called “hard cases” of rape (1%) and incest (0.5%) are simply not frequent enough to keep an abortion clinic profitable.
That most Americans oppose most abortions is great news, of course. We should be replying to every dishonest NARAL tweet with a link to the Atlantic article. But let’s not declare victory just yet. The continued majority support for killing in response to a prenatal diagnosis is extremely disturbing. An end to ableism must remain high on the pro-life agenda. We must also keep in mind that Demsas is citing national averages; as long as the abortion industry can find concentrated support in particular regions of the country (e.g. New York and California), babies are at risk. Dobbs represents a new era of state-by-state, city-by-city organizing. How will you contribute?
[Photo credit: Students for Life of America]