American Opinion on Abortion 12 June 2019.

For a baseline, most Americans support Roe v. Wade.  To be clear, in that decision the Supreme Court of the United States (popularly SCOTUS) “ruled that during the first trimester, governments could not prohibit abortions at all; during the second trimester, governments could require reasonable health regulations; [and] during the third trimester, abortions could be prohibited entirely so long as the laws contained exceptions for cases when they were necessary to save the life or health of the mother.”[1]

Oddly for a democracy, many Americans don’t hold the same opinions on abortion as do their elected representatives.  Many people—both Democrats and Republicans—reject the maximalist positions of their parties.[2]  Some 40 percent of Democrats oppose abortion “for any reason” and some 29 percent of Republicans support abortion “for any reason.”  Better than a third (36 percent) of Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 opposed using Medicaid money to pay for abortions, and better than half (58 percent) of all Americans opposed using Medicaid money to pay for abortions.  Basically, that’s the Hyde Amendment, which Joe Biden has just repudiated.

Why have the two parties missed out on this reality?  Well, they haven’t missed out.  They just don’t care.  Take the abortion-uncertain Democrats as one example.  They are more rural, more Southern, more politically “moderate,” less-educated[3], and more religious than most Democrats.  Basically, they live in areas and represent demographic groups that Democrats know they can’t win anyway.  So, why concede anything to the dissenters?  The same is probably true of Republican dissenters.  They’re probably more urban, more Northern, more educated, less religious, and more “moderate” than most Republicans.  Republicans aren’t going to win these regions or groups anyway, so why concede to the dissenters?[4]

Then–and this will be creepy for liberal Democrats–African-American Democrats (but I repeat myself) split 50-50 on abortion “for any reason.”[5]  At the same, public opinion supports abortion when the child is the result of rape or incest, or when the pregnancy endangers to life of the mother, or when the child would be born with some defect (i.e. Down syndrome like my sister Bronwyn[6]).

Anyway, abortion-rights is for Democrats what gun-rights is for Republicans: the issue mobilizes one-issue true-believers.[7]  No fixing America this way.

[1] According to a Gallup Poll, 60 percent of people support abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.  That would be within about 12 weeks.  That is, once a woman has figured out that she is pregnant, and has had some time to figure out how she feels about being pregnant, and has thought about whether she can manage a child, and has figured out how she will feel about terminating a pregnancy.  Put that way, people opposing abortion in this framework are just an immense collection of assholes.  IMHOP.

[2] Nate Cohn, “Crisp Battle Lines on Abortion Blur When Surveys Ask Voters,” NYT, 9 June 2019.

[3] Think about this for a minute.  Democrats with less education are more moderate than Democrats in general, let alone Democrats with more education.  Could one argue that more-educated people—Democrat and Republican—are messing-up our country?

[4] See: Clayton Christenson on Disruption.  Start at the bottom and eat upward.

[5] If I recall correctly—always a tricky issue—African-Americans also oppose gay rights.

[6] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ_4m2ocxhI  “Go fuck yourself you fucking child!”

[7] In 2015, there were 13,286 firearm deaths, excluding suicides.  According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, there were 638,169 abortions.  Put this way, gun control advocates are dealing with the lesser of two evils.  For those people who think that life begins at conception, abortion is a rolling-Holocaust.  Forced to choose between a child molester and a child murderer, about half of Alabama Republicans sat out the election.

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