Of Parasites and Polls in the Abortion Debate

Somewhere around the Internet, the other day, I came across a photo of some young women demonstrating on behalf of abortion with a handmade sign reading, “Parasites Don’t Have Rights.”  A Providence Journal editorial from Sunday’s paper advocating for the same point of view took the opposite approach, appealing to the complex and deep questions raised by the abortion debate, such as “What constitutes life?”

Well, unless they’ve changed the textbooks in the past 30 years, even parasites “constitute” life, and a unique organism of the species homo sapiens would be a human life.  The abortion debate is a study in narrative control and misdirection.  Things that are obvious (e.g., even a human zygote is human life) suddenly become unanswerable, and things that are vague or questionable become definitive… provided they are definitive for the pro-abortion side.

Poll results are a foremost example of the latter.  Insisting that “most Americans seem to agree basically with Roe v. Wade” (which gave the United States some of the most radical abortion laws in the civilized world), the Providence Journal cites a Pew Research Center survey finding that 58% of Americans “believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.”  What does that even mean?

According to the Congressional Research Service, around 92% of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks.  In other words, you could support a complete ban on all abortions after the first trimester and still say you “believe abortion should be legal in most cases.”

These are the games of polls and surveys on the question of abortion.  Last August, WPRI 12 promoted a poll by Rhode Island’s Fleming & Associates declaring that 49% of Ocean State voters “support the Reproductive Health Care Act, a bill that would give women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable” (which is roughly 24 weeks into the pregnancy).  Omitted from the question was the fact that the legislation goes much, much farther than that, allowing abortion right up to birth and erasing the humanity of an unborn baby killed during a violent attack on his or her mother.

It would take a dedicated myopia to believe that 49% of Rhode Islanders support that.

Other recent polls have proven as much.  A few weeks ago, the Susan B. Anthony List and Rhode Island Right to Life released poll results finding that 73% of Rhode Island voters “oppose late-term abortions in general.”  In February, the polling company Cygnal found that 78% of Rhode Islanders would not agree that abortion should be “legal at any time during a pregnancy,” with 74% specifically opposing legislation that would allow “abortion until the moment of live birth.”

One can tell we’re dealing with something like a religion when journalists demand that legislators pass a law at odds with the values of their constituents so as to short circuit public debate.

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