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New polls show majority of women support post-20-week abortion ban

Published: Friday, Aug. 2 2013 4:50 p.m. MDT

A man holds a sign during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, ASSOCIATED PRESS) A man holds a sign during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A new national poll by Quinnipiac University shows that more women than men favor banning abortions after 20 weeks, but that both genders strongly support such bans.

The new poll follows an ABC poll last week that found very similar results, with 56 percent nationally supporting the post-20-week ban.

Respondents in the Quinnipiac poll were informed that the Supreme Court currently limits abortion laws to prior to 24 weeks of pegnancy, but notes that some states have pushed that limit to 20 weeks. The question does not offer the rationale for this shift, which in most cases is a contested theory that the fetus can perceive pain at between 18 and 20 weeks.

Support for the post-20 week ban spanned all demographics and ideologies, the Democrats narrowly favoring it 46-44 percent, while Republicans embraced it 62-17 percent.

Supporters of an abortion bill cheer during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas.  (Eric Gay, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Supporters of an abortion bill cheer during an anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

If accurate, the poll politically buttresses GOP support for the controversial 20-week bans, which most recently played out in Texas. Common conventional wisdom is that Republicans had stirred up a hornets nest that would sting them in coming elections, and the state senator who led the opposition in Texas briefly became a media icon.

The notion that women are much more supportive of abortion than men is one of the most persistent myths surrounding abortion politics. In reality, a substantial amount of survey data finds that men and women have fairly similar views on abortion.

Despite the poll data, many remain convinced that the Texas legislative push will harm the GOP nationally, contributing to the "war on women" narrative left over from the 2012 Obama re-election campaign.

Theresa Maska holds a sign supporting anti-abortion legislation outside the Texas Senate as they prepare to debate an abortion bill, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Theresa Maska holds a sign supporting anti-abortion legislation outside the Texas Senate as they prepare to debate an abortion bill, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Noah Rothman at Mediate cited an MSNBC panel, where liberal blogger Bill Scherr argued, “Long term, nationally, the optics are terrible for the Republicans. If they care about winning the Senate in 2014 and care about 2016, they can’t be extending the war on women.”

No one on the panel seemed to differ from Scherr's take, but at the conservative National Review, Michael New said that the new polling simply reflects the longstanding but little-understood fact that women do not seem to view abortion that much differently than men.

"Indeed," New wrote, "the notion that women are much more supportive of abortion than men is one of the most persistent myths surrounding abortion politics. In reality, a substantial amount of survey data finds that men and women actually have fairly similar views on abortion."

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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