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Mark Twain said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Nowhere is it more obvious that statistics can mean whatever you want, than when it comes to abortion.

Here is a great example, a recent Marie Claire magazine article made the following assertions:

Contrary to the efforts of the anti-choice [Pro-Life] movement, the majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortions, including one-third of registered Republican voters.

Is that true? Do a majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortions? Do one third of Republican voters support that position?

In a word, No. But with a little finesse, it’s possible to make the statistics LOOK like they do.

The Marie-Claire article linked the highlighted statement above to a Pew Research study. The question asked self-identified Republicans (plus those who “lean Republican”) and Democrats (plus those who “lean Democrat”) if they “agree with their party’s position on abortion.”

According to Pew, 64% of Republicans agreed with their party’s position, while 12% agreed with the Democrats position. And 70% of Democrats agreed with the party position, but 7% agreed with the Republican position. However, 23% of Republicans and 22% of Democrats didn’t agree with either party! So, in order to assert that one-third of Registered Republicans favor abortion, Marie-Claire ASSUMED that every single one of the 23% who didn’t agree with either party must be in favor of abortion on demand!

There was no information collected or revealed about what that person would support in lieu of their party’s platforms. For all we know, a person who didn’t agree with either party could take the position that all unintended teen pregnancies ought to end in adoption (as in the Netherlands) or that there ought to be no exceptions for life of the mother, rape or incest or that the abortion industry should unregulated altogether. Within the context of the survey and the data provided, no one knows what those people actually support in lieu of their party's position!

Unless a reader examines the Pew Research data for themselves,the author could deceive them into believing 1 in 3 Republicans want their representatives to support abortion.

As far as what the Pew Research shows, there is one other tidbit to consider: very few people know what their party’s position actually IS. The major party positions were not defined by the surveyors, so there had to be an assumption that the person being interviewed was knowledgeable. In my experience, this is not the case. For instance, most people are unaware that the Democrat party platform calls for abortion-on-demand, through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, at taxpayer expense. When informed of this, many people express disbelief. They have only heard it presented as “advancing access to safe and legal abortion.”

While more Americans still describe themselves as "pro-choice" than "pro-life" (is that to avoid being labeled "anti-choice"?), attitudes toward abortion ARE changing. Two thirds of Americans (76%) support significant restrictions on abortion, significant majorities (58%) oppose taxpayer funding of abortion and promoting abortion overseas (77%) and 65% of Americans want Roe v. Wade reinterpreted as either a states' issue or to stop legalized abortion.

If you hear or read something different, be sure you take a look at the source material, because when it comes to abortion there are many lies, damned lies and statistics!

[Other published attitudes-toward-abortion surveys can be found here and here.]


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