NBC Poll Claiming Americans Favor Roe is Grossly Misleading
On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the supporters of abortion in the mainstream media are working overtime to push their dishonest message to the public. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing alleged public support for Roe v. Wade – the headline screams “Majority, for first time, want abortion to be legal” – is a prime example of how the mainstream media often manipulates facts, data, and people.
The most objectionable point of the poll is found in its depiction on NBC News’ website. According to Mark Murray, NBC News’ Senior Political Editor, “[t]he 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy.”
The poll itself depicted the Supreme Court decision the same way: “The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy.”
This is a gross depiction of the real facts of Roe v. Wade. As James Agresti, President of Just Facts, pointed out just days ago in taking down the recent Pew poll on public support for Roe:
The designers of the Pew poll boost support for the ruling by telling respondents: “In 1973 the Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe versus Wade decision, or not?”
That language is misleading because Roe v. Wade, along with its accompanying ruling, Doe v. Bolton, mandate that abortion be legal up until the point of birth if any one physician willing to perform an abortion says it is needed for “the preservation of the … health of the mother.” Furthermore, Roe cites specific examples of what may be considered harmful to a mother’s health, such as the “stigma of unwed motherhood,” the work of “child care,” and “the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child.”
Likewise, Doe v. Bolton, which was issued by the Supreme Court on the same day as Roe v. Wade with an order that they “are to be read together,” states that “the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”
Thus, “health,” as defined by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, provides broad leeway to perform abortions throughout pregnancy. In Roe v. Wade, the majority wrote that their ruling does not permit abortions “at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason” a woman chooses, but they provided no example of a circumstance where abortion could be prohibited.
Next on the list, but earlier in the article, Murray quotes a Republican pollster who worked on the poll:
McInturff adds that the abortion-related events and rhetoric over the past year – which included controversial remarks on abortion and rape by two Republican Senate candidates, as well as a highly charged debate over contraception – helped shaped these changing poll numbers.
“The dialogue we have had in the last year has contributed … to inform and shift attitudes.”
Clearly, McInturff has a different definition of “informing” than I do. The HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate “informed” Americans of the non-existent War on Women, which was portrayed as an attack on the ability of women to buy and use contraception. Its accurate depiction as an attack on religious liberty was often ignored. Additionally, the two rape comments by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were two very different comments. Akin’s were made through objectionable scientific ignorance, whereas Mourdock’s were merely an inartful expression of belief in God’s love for all children, regardless of how the child was created. Yet the media “informed” the public the two were similar.
My third objection to the poll is how only four questions are asked regarding the legalization of abortion. People are asked whether it should be legal, illegal, legal in most cases, or illegal except for cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Yet as Steven Ertelt pointed out last week, a much more comprehensive (and honest) Marist Poll showed different results:
Four decades after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Roe v. Wade, a new Marist poll provides more details about Americans’ attitude on abortion, with 83 percent favoring significant restrictions. The poll reveals that support for significant abortion restrictions has increased by four points since last year — rising from 79 percent to 83 percent.
Looking at abortion in views in general, 10 percent believe abortion should never be permitted; 12 percent believe abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother; 34 percent would restrict abortion only to cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother; and 27 percent would limit abortion to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy.
Few Americans take the position of either President Barack Obama or Planned Parenthood, as only 11 percent would allow abortion at any time, while 6 percent would allow it during the first six months of pregnancy.
I am 100% in favor of the dialogue McInturff references in the NBC article – that is, open and honest dialogue based upon the facts of abortion. But to McInturff, NBC News, and most other mainstream media outlets, “dialogue” is about creating and disseminating deceptive pro-abortion perceptions of reality. That’s not dialogue – that’s propaganda.