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May 16, 2007

Comments

Go to the poll and check highlight 2. Seems some things got missed in the summary.

Highlight 4 is simply a dishonest question. We know from the PBA issue and Terry Schaivo that as soon as Roe is overturned the anti abortion lobby will begin a push for a federal law on abortion.

Another problem with the question is that it allows someone to answer one way while actually feeling another way because their state would still allow abortion.

If one wishes to remove abortion as an issue for what ever reason, the wording of this question leads one to answer favoring overturning. A properly done poll would have asked this question with different scenarios.

The PBA question merely show that a deceptive campaign with lame opposition and a lazy media can be effective.

This post clearly illustrates the importance of question construction in polling. They always need careful interpretation and are often unreliable.

I would be curious how responses would change if the effects of Doe v. Bolton were made clear. Abortion on demand for any reason right up until birth.

Question for upcoming Democratic Debate:

This question comes to us from Kevin W;

“By a show of hands; which candidates wish they had been aborted and why?”

Thank you.

"Highlight 4 is simply a dishonest question. We know from the PBA issue and Terry Schaivo that as soon as Roe is overturned the anti abortion lobby will begin a push for a federal law on abortion."

The PBA law was allowed by Roe v. Wade (and the decisions linked to it). Overturn those, and it would have to go away. The Supreme Court would certainly hear a Commerce Clause challenge to any federal law (Justice Thomas has indicated his willingness to do so), and frankly I don't see how any such law could be upheld (without the backing of the truly ridiculous Roe v. Wade decision, that is).

I'm not sure what Schaivo has to do with this.

"The PBA question merely show that a deceptive campaign with lame opposition and a lazy media can be effective."

Oh, it was indeed effective, for quite a while. It took us a LONG time to break down the barriers you mentioned to get the tiniest, most reasonable restriction (the PBA law) passed. Every other time, the judges would invent a new criterion that claimed to allow such legislation in general, but disallowed the particular one in specific.

I think it would be helpful if political debates were real debates. For example, when presidential candidates "debate," it shouldn't just be giving 60 second answers to questions. It should be over a specific issue, it should have opening statements/arguments, followed by rebuttals and conclusions. Most people I've met who are generally in favour of abortion don't think it should be legal for any reason whatsoever. For example, most pro-choice people I've talked to don't think it should be legal to use abortion as a form of birth control.

Sam, I'm wondering when abortion supporters like your friends say "I don't think abortion should be legal to use as a form of birth control" you should reply with "Why not?" It's it's just a clump of cells no different in value than the ones that flake of your arm throughout the day, WHY care if its used as birth control? You see this is inconsistent to the pro-abortion cause. Either it's a human and deserves all our protection or it's not and we can discard it as though it were an unwanted mole. That's why topics around the abortion topic are completely void until you first ask WHAT it is. Nothing of the sort has come across the mainstream media, and this upsets me.

People,

WAKE-UP: Think about the right of the fetus versus the right of the mohter.

Abortion:

Where is freedom on the side of the fetus?

Where is tyranny on the side of the mother?

>>Go to the poll and check highlight 2. Seems some things got missed in the summary.

Alan, I'm not sure what you mean here…are you referring to the fact that the majority prefers for some abortions to remain legal? That's not news--that's consistent with the status quo. The point of my post is that the study reveals that there are many types of abortions that the majority of Americans think *should not* be legal, contrary to the Roe v. Wade ruling (and the status quo), and that a clear understanding of the issues changes many people's minds about whether there ought to be a democratic process (either state or federal--I'm not sure why the distinction changes everything for you) to determine which should be legal and which illegal.

>>Another problem with the question is that it allows someone to answer one way while actually feeling another way because their state would still allow abortion.

I don't think I understand what you mean by that. Can you clarify?

>>If one wishes to remove abortion as an issue for what ever reason, the wording of this question leads one to answer favoring overturning.

Of course! Because that is the very question! The question is, do you think some abortions ought to be made illegal? The fact is that this can only happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Therefore, if you want a specific kind of abortion (or several) to be made illegal, you ought to favor overturning Roe v. Wade. The abortions to be made illegal would be determined by a democratic process. The result is not because of tricky wording; it's just common sense that those who want *some* abortions to be illegal (regardless of how many) would favor overturning the decision.

>>A properly done poll would have asked this question with different scenarios.

The survey showed only what it was designed to measure--nothing more. That is, a majority of Americans favor making several types of abortion illegal (many, many abortion scenarios were asked about)--and by that I assume they think it should be illegal for everyone (there's no indication they think it should only be illegal in their state). Many of those people favor overturning Roe v. Wade so that those types of abortion can be made illegal. Many changed their minds after considering which abortions they wish were illegal and the fact that Roe v. Wade prevents them from making those abortions illegal. That's a simple thing to determine.

I assume by "different scenarios" you mean something like this: Would you favor overturning Roe v. Wade if it meant that all abortions would be outlawed--even the ones you think should be legal? But *that* would be a dishonest question because that is not the meaning of Roe v. Wade. Reversing the decision would not make all abortions illegal. It would mean leaving the question to a vote, just as the question stated in the survey. The chances of all abortions being outlawed is extremely slim (as you can see from the survey), and even if that happened, it would only happen by a democratic vote, and the people would have their say as they do with all laws (just as the survey informed the voters).

But people can read through the questions and decide for themselves if the questions were clear and reveal some true things about public opinion even if they don't explore every possible scenario.

"If Roe were overturned, states could make abortion policies that would permit abortion for some reasons and bar it for others."

Every person has his/her opinion about what reason is good enough and what reason is not good enough for an abortion.

The devil is in the details. Start getting specific and you will see the support for overturning Roe v. Wade go down again.

Hi Amy, this may be somewhat compressed as I am merciful so I'll be happy to clarify anything.

I looked things over again and I have a lot of problems with this sort of thing. Push polling is a poor and somewhat dishonest way in which to do public policy. I don't like it when I see it on the left so I am simply being consistent here.

What a poll like this cannot do is measure actual attitudes and values; what it is designed to do is discover how best to manipulate public opinion.

The result is almost always bad law and policy.

There is nothing new here. That people have conflicted feelings on abortion has been reflected in polling for years.

http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm

If one emphasizes that babies are being killed on the whims of loose women with poor values then you will get answers skewed one way and if you emphasize rights, difficult personal decisions, and so forth then the answers will skew in another direction.

The whole concept of rights is based, in part, on the idea that folks will have different notions about what is best for them and that poor choices will be made. We should have learned that once and for all with the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.

(I fully understand that you cannot accept that analogy as you see another person involved from the beginning; I wish you all would try to to see that others don't buy that and hence see the analogies to slavery as invalid.)

There is however a certain blatant dishonesty in the poll.

To start with, the trimester system was replaced in Casey, hence the six month reference is no longer valid.

Using six months as a reference could lead some to assume a somewhat even distribution of procedures in terms of time but the reality is that about 90% of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks and only about 1% at 21 weeks and after. This is important as polls have repeatedly shown that folks are likely to see early abortions as solely a personal matter. That should have been included in a manner that would measure its importance in the decision process.

The question in Highlight 4 becomes more problematic as I ponder it. The use of the word "could" is deceptive. As you are no doubt aware several states have abortion laws still on their books from pre-Roe times and the status of these laws is unclear. Also two states have laws designed to kick in should Roe be overturned - that might be useful information - at least to the folks living in those states - other states might pass such laws between now and overturn.

The possibility of nationalization of the issue is important information that the poll deliberately steers the pollee away from considering, yet that is also useful information. We already have one national law on abortion that has survived a Supreme Court challenge. Without going over the problems with the law and decision, you at least have to admit the possibility that absent Roe, your side will push for Federal legislation.

The possibility of a nationwide law on abortion is important as, absent Roe, the residents of some states (e.g. New York, California, Montana, Nevada) are assured abortion as a right as long as it remains a state issue. That could influence the answers of some who wouldn't consider the possibility of a federal law unless the likelyhood was pointed out as part of an in depth discussion.

Another matter that some consider useful information is the process by which Roe would be overturned. That wasn't explained and one thing I have discovered in dealing with the public is that one can't assume anything. A state would have to pass a law which would then go through the courts to the Supremes.

We currently know nothing about that law, hence folks are, in effect, being asked to buy a pig in a poke when they are asked if they favor overturning Roe. What would the provisions of that law be? Would the theory overturning Roe weaken decisions like Lawrence and Griswold? Do we want to weaken or do away with substantive due process?

We have just seen an anti-abortion law pass SC muster that had no life or health provisions and the decision went on to restrict appeals and set gender roles. It would only be fair to make that information part of the calculus.

Also those who would be willing to see Roe go on the hopes that it will take the issue off the national stage should also be informed that there are other theories on which abortion rights could be based - equal protection and on federal legislation, the commerce clause. We could overturn Roe and still have years of litigation. That information could influence opinion on overturning.

A fuller discussion would also serve to concentrate the minds of some and that could change answers. The reality is that abortion is one of those issues where regular folks can "believe" one way and act in another. Restrictions in my state may be less significant and hence easy for me to support, especially if a "free state" is a short hop away. The prospect of having to travel to another country should my 16 year old daughter have a "situation" might well cause me to value the rights of others a little more.

How people feel about restricting abortion might also be influenced by the class differences that any such law will engender. You may not care or even agree with this point but there is a case to be made and some might consider it important.

Amy, I understand that your basic views on abortion will lead you to see this poll as fair and significant. I hope you can suspend those views for a moment an try and see that this is arguably a push poll that is designed to help devise a strategy that uses cherry-picked points arranged in a manner to deceive.

Just to be clear, I have been blunter then this about similar efforts on issues on my side. I don't like using polls to find out how best to obfuscate an issue. If there is merit in a proposal, an open and complete discussion is the best way to consider it.

"But people can read through the questions and decide for themselves if the questions were clear and reveal some true things about public opinion even if they don't explore every possible scenario."

No, they can't. Issue advocacy is, by its nature, an adversarial process that requires a comprehensive exposition of all sides. I believe that something is written somewhere about wisdom and a multitude of councilors.

A brief word about your "democracy" references. Rights are not subject to popular vote. That is the idea behind rights. I know you don't believe there is such a right but I do so the "democracy" point is going to be lost on folks like me.

"A brief word about your "democracy" references. Rights are not subject to popular vote. That is the idea behind rights. I know you don't believe there is such a right but I do so the "democracy" point is going to be lost on folks like me."

Alan, while the existence of rights are not subject to vote, our government's endorsement or rejection of rights is.

Even Roe, which is poorly decided precisely because it both went against the will of the people and denied rights to unborn people, it was still decided by judges which were appointed into power by an elected president.

As years pass and science has progressed we've learned a lot more about the unborn and it's only revealed that the fetus is a lot more human than we thought. It is complete at every stage and capable of the complete human experience from conception. We don't cut off this promise of humanity in any other law.

It's only a matter of time before Roe will be flipped, although Dems have a way of permanately altering and damaging systems in the short time they are in office. Roe has killed 40 million Americans and that damage is unrepairable.

Every person, uniquely made in the image of God gone forever from participating in this nation. We are lucky not to have suffered the same fate, not because our right to life was recognized, but because our mothers didn't happen to want to destroy us.

"Even Roe, which is poorly decided precisely because it both went against the will of the people and denied rights to unborn people, it was still decided by judges which were appointed into power by an elected president."

Hi Doug, you are correct in the sense that, in the end, the Supremes determine the meaning of the Constitution but there are also various feedback mechanisms that modify the process. As the majority still support the essence of Roe I would dispute your point on the will of the people. There may also be other and perhaps better theories supporting a right to abortion in the early stages of a pregnancy but there is room for disagrement here. I find Roe compelling and Gonzales poorly decided; you believe the opposite.

"It is complete at every stage and capable of the complete human experience from conception."

This reduces to a circular argument. Higher brain function is what makes us who and what we are. That is absent in the early stages of pregnancy. BTW, five of the seven Justices voting in the majority were appointed by Republican Presidents.

"Every person, uniquely made in the image of God gone forever from participating in this nation."

Thank you. This has been my point all along - that the opposition to early abortion is driven primarily by theological concerns, unprovable absent belief.

"We are lucky not to have suffered the same fate,..."

I don't believe women get abortions on whims, this might imply that they do. It also implies that we are fixed entities from conception as opposed to persons formed by our experiences.

Alan said: "Higher brain function is what makes us who and what we are."

So when your mother was 16 weeks pregnant Alan Aronson didn't exist? Certainly, this is not true materially. Perhaps you need to be more specific? Just how high is the higher you need to be, before "you" exist?

I would suggest that there was something unique aboout "you" at 16 weeks that is still a characteristic of "you" now. In this sense you are a fixed entity although you clearly have been influenced by your experiences and the experiences of others.

If this were not true you would cease to be Alan Aronson as soon as you had a new experience. There certianly would be not much point to a birth certificate!

Remind me why your definition is authoritative? Then tell me how your answer differs from theological concerns "unprovable absent belief".

Alan also said:

"As the majority still support the essence of Roe I would dispute your point on the will of the people"

Well, that is what this post was trying to illustrate. That the will of the people is a little more complex than the essence of Roe.

Alan said: "I don't believe women get abortions on whims". Would it make any difference to you if they did? Why?

If there is nothing morally problematic about abortion and if it is "safe & legal" why wouldn't whim be a perfectly legitimate reason. What is the difference between a whim and just not wanting to be bothered with a
child?

Is it considered a whim if the unborn child is not valued as a human and not a whim if the unborn child is in fact of value?
a human person

" 'As the majority still support the essence of Roe I would dispute your point on the will of the people'

Well, that is what this post was trying to illustrate. That the will of the people is a little more complex than the essence of Roe."

Agreed William, that in fact was the point of my comment. The calculus here is properly complex, taking into consideration a number of points.

Push polls, by their nature, seek to lie, decieve, oversimplify, and obfuscate depending on the issue and the result desired by the folks paying for the poll.

What I am resisting here is the attempt to restrict the discussion to a single over riding concept; either "it's my body and I have a right" or "it's a baby, aborton is murder" isn't going to give satisfactory results.

"Alan said: "I don't believe women get abortions on whims". Would it make any difference to you if they did? Why?"

From my point of view William, one doesn't make important decisions on a whim. There is nothing really profound here; personal experience and observation (hopefully, more the latter than the former) have taught me that lesson.

When I shop, I calculate the prices - Costco vs. Trader Joe's and the .99 store, I coast down hills and am pretty good at timing signals. It is unreasonable to suppose that I might consider the choice of ones partners and the possible result of such choices to be significant?

I see a complex issue here; you don't. I don't want the state to be able to compel women to bear children until a certain point is reached for reasons we have discussed previously.

What is morally problematic may not have a legal cure. Because you see abortion as murder and I don't believe we have a person to be murdered until a certain point is reached we are going to differ here.

"Is it considered a whim if the unborn child is not valued as a human and not a whim if the unborn child is in fact of value? a human person "

"Whim" goes into the decision making process of the decider, not the nature of the issue being decided.

"So when your mother was 16 weeks pregnant Alan Aronson didn't exist? Certainly, this is not true materially. Perhaps you need to be more specific? Just how high is the higher you need to be, before "you" exist?"

Nope, not at all; "I" wasn't there. "Higher" to me is basically cortical activity and at 16 weeks we aren't there yet. We are close enough that I can see arguments at that stage that I wouldn't entertain at conception or four weeks but still no person. Nothing of significance that was unique.

"If this were not true you would cease to be Alan Aronson as soon as you had a new experience. There certainly would be not much point to a birth certificate!"

This is a category confusion. One has to draw lines for legal purposes and they, by their nature, are going to be arbitrary. Birth certificates, drivers licenses, etc. are good examples.

Continuous arising, on the other hand, is a metaphysical concept present in some religions and is an alternative to inherently existing entities.

I am out of email contact for a while and don't have time to take this any further. I am not getting your answers to the questions that are really important. I expect we will have another opportunity.

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