Americans’ ambivalence on abortion
“No one really knows what Americans think about abortion,” said Ema O’Connor. How can this be, when there have been so many polls on the topic? BuzzFeed’s analysis of 14 abortion polls, and interviews with polling experts, indicate that “the public’s opinion on abortion is much less binary and significantly more complex than the national conversation about abortion makes it seem.” Abortion polls often find seemingly contradictory responses, such as people who say they’re pro-life but don’t want abortion made illegal. A single word in the question can affect results: If pollsters ask whether abortion should be legal, for example, they often get very different responses than if they ask whether abortion should remain legal. One poll found that 76 percent of Republicans agree with the statement, “We need to protect the rights of the unborn.” But 49 percent also agree that the government should not “prevent a woman from making her own decision.” What the polls seem to indicate is that many or even most Americans are conflicted, and aren’t quite sure how they feel about abortion. So next time you see an abortion poll proclaiming that “most Americans believe…,” take it with a big grain of salt.