In response to poll results from Citizens for Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness showing that Rhode Islanders don’t much support abortion law as it currently stands or efforts to ensure that it remains as radical as it is, Jennifer Laseless — who describes herself as “a political scientist who regularly conducts survey research, a member of the Board of Oversees for the 2016 American National Election Study, an expert of women and politics, and a former Rhode Islander” — retorts as follows, on UpriseRI:
The fact that nearly 8 percent of the Rhode Islanders polled placed abortion at the top of their priority list and that it ranked 7th overall is quite telling. But not for the reasons the Citizens for Life press release argued. Quite the contrary. Rhode Islanders care more about this issue – by a substantial margin – than does the overall United States population.
Even with a poorly worded question, Rhode Islanders are much more supportive of reproductive rights than they are of restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.
Well, about that: Citizens for Life has released the crosstabs from the survey, so we can see exactly who it is who proclaims abortion as their top priority. As it turns out, the answer is much more in keeping with the views of Citizens for Life than of Ms. Lawless. Of those who named abortion as their top priority, 45% were people who stated that abortion should not be permitted under any circumstances; add in those who think that abortion should only be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, and you get 75% of everybody who said abortion is their top issue.
Combining the responses of the two most pro-choice groups (legal up to six months and legal at any time during the pregnancy), abortion is the last of nine named issues in terms of top priorities. On the other hand, combining all of those who believe abortion laws should be no less restrictive than in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, abortion is the 4th most likely issue of the nine to be a top priority. (The pro-life grouping, by the way is 32% bigger than the pro-choice grouping.)
Among the remaining group (legal in the first trimester), abortion is 8th out of nine as a top priority. And in terms of political parties, abortion is much more likely to be a top priority for Republicans than for Democrats.
So, in summary (between this post and my prior one on this poll):
- After universal concern about education, Rhode Islanders’ top priorities lean toward issues that tend to be conservatives’ priorities (jobs, taxes, and corruption).
- Rhode Islanders tend consider themselves conservative, moderate, and liberal, in that order.
- Most Rhode Islanders do not agree with the extreme state of abortion law as it stands.
- And those Rhode Islanders who care greatly about abortion tend to be pro-lifers who want to restrict it more.
How is it, then, that the state’s politicians and news media seem to present the issue in the exact opposite way? Generally speaking, could this have something to do with public distrust of these groups?