There’s good news for liberty on this 40th anniversary of Roe V Wade, a 1973 court decision that confirmed a woman’s right to abortion (at least for the first three months) under the 14th Amendment. For the first time, a majority of Americans support a woman as having the right to make her own medical decisions, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. 54 percent of adults say that abortion should be legal either always or most of the time.
What next — Can we dress ourselves too?
Sadly, 41% of respondents did not know what Roe v Wade was about (civics much, America?), so for the next question, the pollsters explained it what the decision meant, “The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe versus Wade decision, or not? And do you feel strongly about that or not?”
70 percent of Americans oppose Roe v. Wade being overturned, with 57% feeling strongly about this. In 1989, 58% did not want to see it overturned, while 31% did. On the date of this poll, January 13 2013, 70% did not want it overturned and only 24% did.
Next they asked, “Which comes closest to your view on abortion–abortion should always be legal, should be legal most of the time, should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?”
31% said it should always be legal and 23% said it should be legal most of the time, making 54% who think it should be legal most or all of the time. 35 percent said it should be illegal with exceptions (which is the same as legal under some circumstances, if you think about it but whatever), and only 9% agree with the Republican Party platform and Paul Ryan’s personhood bill that it should be illegal with no exceptions. 2% were not sure.
Compare those answers with 2003, when 14% thought it should be illegal without any exceptions while only 27% thought it should be legal all of the time, 17% most of the time and 40% illegal with exceptions.
These are the strongest numbers in support of of women’s liberty since the poll started in 1989. Republican pollster Bill McInturff called these “profound” changes and he attributes the shifts to Republicans’ legitimate rape and attempts to shame women for using contraception as well as force women to ask their employer for the right to have the company health insurance policy cover their contraception.
McInturff adds that the abortion-related events and rhetoric over the past year – which included controversial remarks on abortion and rape by two Republican Senate candidates, as well as a highly charged debate over contraception – helped shaped these changing poll numbers.
“The dialogue we have had in the last year has contributed … to inform and shift attitudes.”
Yes, it turns out that women’s liberty is enshrined in the Constitution via an amendment, just like the Second Amendment. Yet conservatives try to stop women from having access to their freedom and intimidate those who provide this freedom all over the country. Abortion doctors often find themselves targeted by terror campaigns, including publishing the doctor’s home address with encouragements to “confront” the doctor, pictures of their home and car and publishing their home telephone numbers. At least seven clinic doctors have been killed in order to intimidate doctors from performing the legal medical services of abortion. Countless others have been intimidated and harassed.
Americans are supposed to be protected from these threats by the FACE Act (“The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services. FACE also authorizes reproductive health care providers, the state attorney general, and/or the federal government to bring civil lawsuits to get injunctions against these activities, or to get monetary damages.”), but but we rarely enforce it.
We treat women’s liberty under the 14th Amendment as if it were not real. As Rachel Maddow pointed out almost a year ago, we allow the Right to use murder as a political tactic. We have allowed terrorists to chip away at a constitutionally protected freedom. We have allowed the murder of abortion doctors and stalking of women by crazy extremists who have no right to obstruct legal access to medical care.
Can you imagine if liberals were targeting gun sellers like conservatives target abortion providers?
We have chosen to entrust women with this medical decision and the constitution protects this liberty per the 14th Amendment. Furthermore, the majority of Americans agree that this liberty should be protected most or all of the time.
We give thanks to Republicans for raising awareness of this issue. Now we need to stop elected Republican legislators from proceeding with their unprecedented attacks on women’s liberty.
The ABC/WSJ poll interviewed 1000 Adults, including 300 cell phone only respondents.
Image: AnnofCarversville blog
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.